Mobile Government: Feds Seek Improved Strategy, Coordination

Making Mobile Gov, a GSA initiative, aims to foster collaboration and innovation in the ways the federal government employs mobile technology.
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The General Services Administration (GSA) has launched an initiative to promote the use of mobile devices and applications across the federal government to create more efficiency, foster the creation of new services and to improve data transparency.

Through Making Mobile Gov, the agency plans to help pull together a host of nebulous mobile initiatives that are already peppered across the federal government and get stakeholders involved to form a more strategic direction.

Gwynne Kostin, director of mobile in the GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies--which is overseeing the initiative-wrote in a blog post that the campaign is aimed at getting agencies to collaborate on their use of mobile assets to find better ways to disseminate government information to the public.

"It's clear that government is just beginning to embrace the possibilities [of mobile devices]," she wrote. "The Making Mobile Gov project ... will help federal agencies work together to share lessons learned and creatively problem solve to bring more government information and services to smartphones and other mobile devices."

Among the tasks of the initiative will be to educate federal department and agency leadership, program staff, and IT staff on the benefits of mobile use; develop criteria to identify better projects and better ways to implement them; encourage mobile strategy and technology investment decisions to meet agency mission goals; and spur interagency collaboration to accelerate the campaign.

While the feds have certainly increased their adoption of mobile devices and applications--including the development of a host of the latter for iPhone and Android devices as part of a public-engagement strategy--there so far has not been clear mobile policy or strategy across agencies.

With Making Mobile Gov, the GSA hopes to corral agencies' mobile strategies before they become divergent or difficult to control, something the feds failed to do when they began leveraging the web, according to information about Mobile Gov on the GSA site.

"In the 90s, there was no overall coordination of federal web efforts," according to the site. "Websites grew like kudzu, creating not only great services but also, in many cases, redundancies that confused citizens and consumed resources."

The adoption of mobile devices and applications is also in its early stages among federal agencies, and Mobile Gov is designed to ensure they are investing in the right place and creating the right solutions to leverage the technology in innovative and practical ways.

"Unlike 15 years ago, we can use new communications and collaboration technologies to share experiences and ideas and to build strategies and toolsets across agencies--making the most of current budgets while meeting the expectations of a citizenry on the move," according to the site.

GTEC brings together leading public and private sector experts to collaborate on serving Canadian citizens better through innovation and technology. It happens in Ottawa, Oct. 17-20. Find out more.