'Bring Your Own Device' for Beginners

August 27, 2012

Telework is rapidly changing the way the federal government works, and now federal agencies have a few new tools to expand mobility options for employees, thanks to the new “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, guidance released by the White House on Thursday.

The guidance, which is part of the White House’s now three-month-old Digital Government Strategy, includes recommendations from a working group that studied the benefits of BYOD based on lessons learned from successful BYOD programs launched at agencies.

Some of those benefits include improved productivity and work-life balance among employees as well as significant cost savings. At the same time, BYOD presents agencies with a myriad of security, policy, technical and legal challenges, the working group found.

The guidance makes clear that agencies are not required to implement a BYOD strategy. But for those agencies that think the positives of BYOD outweigh its challenges, the new toolkit is a great place to start, Cindy Auten, general manager at Telework Exchange, said Friday.

“Just as with telework programs, each agency must evaluate its specific mission and business objectives to determine how to best design the program to ensure maximum benefits – the same goes for a BYOD program,” Auten said. “Agencies must evaluate if and how it makes strategic sense to implement and this toolkit provides a checklist of sorts to run through when making that decision.  It also offers examples of how several agencies have already tackled the issue.”

One of those examples includes the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which implemented a virtual desktop that allows a BYOD solution with minimal policy or legal limitations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has implemented a BYOD pilot that allows employees to opt out of the government-provided mobile device program and install third-party software on their own smartphones that enables use of their personal devices for official work purposes.

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