The Mobile Government

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — September 17, 2013

What’s on the minds of Federal agency managers these days? Mobility— how to get there, how to secure it and how to measure benefits. Mobile Enterprise was in attendance at the Mobile Work Exchange Townhall Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Sept. 12. Almost 900 attendees gathered to discuss strategy, network with peers and hear from agencies not just going mobile, but succeeding.

Among attendees, here were some of the common complaints when it comes to implementing mobile programs:

  • BYOD is not allowed.
  • Connectivity is a problem (even when sitting at the desktop.)
  • No budgets.
  • Lack of buy-in. (Managers want to see a “body in a chair” while employees are resistant to teleworking because they like the social interaction.)
In addition, employees fear co-workers are actually “slacking off” when supposedly mobile, and passing on the work, while managers are worried about the “out of sight/out of mind” mentality and need proven metrics to determine productivity levels.

The topic of Yahoo eliminating its mobile workforce was brought up several times during the conference, especially since that decision has lent doubt to Federal managers trying to go mobile. However, it was noted by several in attendance that Yahoo’s decision was not based on random whims, but because for that particular company, mobility was not proving productive.

In contrast, Mobile Work Exchange demonstrated the benefits of telecommuters and offered an ROI Calculator which also factors in savings on commuter costs. The Secure Mobilometer is a tool to help organizations and individuals assess the security of such initiatives.

According to a recent report, Feds on the Go: Network Needs for Maximum Mobility, commissioned by MeriTalk, Federal employees estimate they would gain “an average of seven hours of additional productivity per week by having seamless remote connectivity and mobile access to their agency.” This is the equivalent of almost $14K in productivity gains per mobile Federal employee, per year.

A Mobile Work Exchange representative also noted that by having less employees driving in, it will help agencies reduce carbon emissions as Executive Order 13514 dictates. (The order requires Federal agencies to have a reduction target by 2020.)

ATF Advances
Dr. Rick Holgate, CIO of the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), opened the Town Hall Meeting noting that the ATF is a very mobile workforce, when just five years ago, there was still a very “office centric” mindset.

“Now we have technology at our fingertips, on demand, available at any time,” he said, adding that work itself is “changing from a place that you go, to something that you do.”

He discussed how digital strategies should be more “citizen centric” as well as becoming smarter and more aggressive to enable the entire mobile workforce.

While extending mobility to classified operations is obviously far more difficult, mobility itself has created a very exciting time, both for the present, and the future possibilities, he said. Going further, he noted that telework is sometimes referred to in limiting ways. It’s not having the office experience at home, for example, but “about thinking differently and how we get things done.”

Major Linus J. Barloon II, Chief of Cyber Operations Division, White House Communications Agency, U.S. Air Force, addressed security during his keynote. Active duty for 22 years, Major Barloon is in charge of protection from cyber threats on the networks used by the President, Vice President and other senior White House staff.

A Device Model?
Nine breakout sessions were held to address IT transformation, workforce management and enterprise technology. Homeland Security presented a case study on how mobility has helped the agency while other sessions focused on cloud computing, workforce training and addressing roadblocks, such as the complaints mentioned above.

In his session, Rob Anderson, Chief, CV/CV Division, HQMC, said he wants to turn BYOD into COPE and flip that term on its head by calling it “Personally Enabled Corporate Device.”  He addressed several mobile objectives, from creating a framework to enabling such personally owned devices on the enterprise network.

Going forward, Telework Week will be held March 3 through 7, 2014 and the next Town Hall will be held on April 10 in Washington, D.C.

Related Content:
Go Mobile and Go Home
Yahoo Says No to Mobile
Cyber Threat is Real and Mobile

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