Kundra pushes employee-owned mobile devices for work

Tuesday - 3/1/2011, 3:28pm EST

AFCEA discussion, moderated by WFED's Tom Temin

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

In the near future, federal employees could forego a work phone and laptop and do all their work on their personal technology.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said he wants to move toward giving feds a subsidy - of say, $2,000 - to purchase their own devices to work on.

Many federal employees have better technology at home than at the office, Kundra said Friday at an AFCEA discussion on the federal budget, moderated by WFED's Tom Temin.

Security considerations have created a single image of federal technology - a desktop configuration and a single platform. This, Kundra said, is the "old world."

The current model is unsustainable, both in terms of efficiency and cost, an amount Kundra calls "mindboggling."

"We're paying ten times more on moves, adds, changes on some of these assets than the actual price of these assets," Kundra said.

Richard A. Spires, CIO Department of Homeland Security, agreed, saying the government must move toward a "device agnostic" model.

"I don't want to own it because I don't see how we in the future can afford that model," Spires said.

It's not just cost alone that's providing a reason to move toward using employee-owned devices for work.

The use of personal devices can actually improve medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Roger Baker, the agency's assistant secretary for information technology and CIO.

Every year, VA brings in 100,000 medical residents and many have iPads, iPhone and other mobile devices, Baker said. These residents must use the medical system that is secure but locked down on a desktop or laptop computer.

If residents want to use tools outside of the VA system to provide better patient care, they are breaching privacy, he said.

Agency CIOs must figure out how to be a yes CIO, not a no CIO, "or you're going to be a gone CIO," Baker said.

"If you think you're going to be able to control the new, young, aggressive folks coming in and have access to better technologies and have access to the web and darn well know how to do it - and if you think you're going to hand them a desktop locked in one place with your apps and that's all they're going to run, think again," Baker said.