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8/12/2011
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VA Plans To Deploy Tablets

iPads and Android- and Windows-based tablets are added to an existing procurement contract, setting the stage for widespread use within the VA.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added a procurement of tablet devices to an existing enterprise contract, the first agency to eye a broad deployment of this type of devices for its personnel.

The VA added the procurement in two amendments to an existing Government Enterprise Contract--launched in March--to acquire a significant amount of computer hardware for employees. The amendments were added to the contract's listing on FedBizOpps.gov Thursday.

One amendment covers the acquisition of Apple iPads and Android-based tablets, while the other covers devices that run Microsoft's Windows mobile operating system. The amendments did not specify how many tablets the department plans to procure nor did it make mention of how they would be used.

The VA--spurred by CIO Roger Baker--is emerging as one of the leaders among federal agencies in embracing the latest mobile devices and smartphones for use within the enterprise.

Last month Baker revealed that the department in October would add iPhones and Android-based smartphones to the list of approved devices that hospital clinicians and employees can use to access information from its electronic health records (EHR) system and other internal applications. Currently BlackBerrys are the only smartphones permitted for official use in the VA.

The strategy supports a trend by other federal agencies and organizations to include the latest smartphones to the list of devices employees can use at work. While iPhones and Android-based devices so far have been more commonplace among these nascent moves, agencies are beginning to explore the tablet form factor as well.

Prior to the VA's plans to procure the devices, the Department of Interior said it would purchase a small number of iPads and distribute them to employees to see if they would increase productivity. Agents with the U.S. Marshals Service also are testing iPads--along with iPhones and Android-based devices--for possible future use in the field.

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