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Agency Plans iPhone, iPad Health Apps

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences issues RFI for iPhone and iPad apps, with an eye toward other mobile platforms.

14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
Slideshow: 14 Most Popular Government Mobile Apps
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The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is looking for a contractor to help it design and implement iPhone and iPad applications.

NIEHS, part of the National Institutes of Health, has issued a request for information on FedBizOpps.gov, the federal government's main website for such solicitations, where it spells out its requirements. The agency wants the apps to present news, grant opportunities, job postings, scientific findings, and multimedia content, and to include social media links.

While the RFI specifies the apps be designed for the Apple platforms, the agency wants the option of porting to Android, Windows Mobile, and other mobile devices in the future. It's requesting that the design, layout, interface and usability of the apps be based on industry best practices to make porting "straightforward."

[ The Transportation Security Administration is also investing in Apple devices. Read TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads. ]

The RFI, dated May 31, comes just eight days after federal CIO Steven VanRoekel introduced a "digital government strategy" that, among other things, instructs agencies to deliver more content and services to mobile devices. "The general public and our government workforce should be able to access government information and services on demand and on any device," reads the White House strategy document.

Under the digital government strategy, agencies are required to mobile-enable at least two public-facing services within the next 12 months. They must engage their "customers" during the next three months to identify the services to be converted for mobile use.

The federal government's mobile apps portal on USA.gov has a section with dozens of apps for Apple devices. Some agencies are developing their own mobile apps, while others are leaving the work to outside developers, either through contacts or volunteer work.

Last December, National Weather Service officials put a hold on use of internal resources to develop mobile apps, saying that the private sector had created thousands of weather apps. The National Weather Service Employees Organization called the decision "counterproductive."

Geared specifically toward the federal government, its agencies, and third parties, FISMA is a set of requirements aimed at establishing a baseline level of computer and network security. In our FISMA Lifts All Compliance Boats report, we show that when you reach FISMA compliance, you'll likely be compliant with just about every security mandate out there. (Free registration required.)

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