Why We Need Digital Government Strategy 2.0 - InformationWeek

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Government // Leadership
09:11 AM
Tom Suder
Tom Suder
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Why We Need Digital Government Strategy 2.0

The federal government has been an early adopter of mobile technology but now it is time to take it to the next level. These five areas need to be addressed.

Imagine a world where a field worker could enter and view data from three systems to do his job, rather than logging into three separate systems, sometimes entering duplicative data. These three systems could vary drastically in age and capabilities, but it wouldn't matter since they would all look alike to a mobile or Web developer.

"FedRAMP-like" policy for mobile app security

As agencies move to mobility, new, unimagined threats potentially can enter the enterprise. While we all could see how law enforcement could benefit from a "blue-force" tracking app to know where its assets are, what if this system was compromised and the "bad guys" knew the same information?

There needs to be some guidance in this area -- potentially using a model similar to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) that has been used to baseline cloud-security controls.

A good place to center some efforts in this area is to look at what the Department of Homeland Security is doing with its "Carwash" mobile app testing program. This program is meant to test government-developed apps. They have recently received a commitment from the Department of Justice that they will participate in this "shared-service."

Mobile-First/Mobile-Only policy

Many government workers create and access data, not from behind a desk but in the "field." Typically, some of the data is collected in a paper format and re-typed into "the system" at the end of the day.

Pam Hird, with the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a program for her survey workers to go from a paper-based to a tablet system. She not only saved the department $3 million per year, but drastically reduced error rates.

As the president of a non-profit called the Digital Government Foundation, we are looking at non-IT areas to potentially save money. For example, I was part of an effort with the University of Central Florida to digitize the Federal Register using five data.gov feeds. President Obama ultimately decided to cancel the print version of the publication and highlighted the effort in the "Campaign to Cut Waste".

The original Digital Government Strategy directed agencies to identify two systems to "mobilize." Maybe DGF II could require them to actually mobilize two systems. That will really get government agencies thinking like business and figure out creative ways to finance mobility using existing resources.

The Digital Government Strategy was an influential document that has moved the federal government in mobility and really fostered a level of collaboration within government rarely seen. There is more work to be done and the collaboration needs to continue.

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Chuck Brooks
Chuck Brooks,
User Rank: Author
10/29/2013 | 7:26:12 PM
re: Why We Need Digital Government Strategy 2.0
Excellent article Tom! Mobility combined with security, privacy, and usability are critical elements for the expanding BYOD market both in government and in the private sector. Technologies have brought us to the cusp of these capabilities and now the enactment of mobility policies and process by executive management need to the next steps.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/29/2013 | 6:34:14 PM
re: Why We Need Digital Government Strategy 2.0
I can understand the government IT people that are against BYOD. After all, many government agencies deal with sensitive information. However, I don't think they can do anything to stop it. It's already happening, whether officially sanctioned or not. So the question becomes - how to deal with it?

Does BYOD come with headaches? Of course it does. However, security issues and IT management headaches (how do I support all those devices?) can be addressed by using new HTML5 technologies that enable users to connect to applications and systems without requiring IT staff to install anything on user devices. For example, Ericom AccessNow is an HTML5 RDP client that enables remote users to securely connect from iPads, iPhones and Android devices to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run their applications and desktops in a browser. This enhances security by keeping the organization's applications and data separate from the employee's personal device.

Since AccessNow doesn't require any software installation on the end user device G just an HTML5 browser, network connection, URL address and login details - IT staff end up with less support hassles. An employee that brings in their own device merely opens their HTML5-compatible browser and connects to the URL given them by the IT admin.

Check out this link for more info:

Please note that I work for Ericom
User Rank: Author
10/29/2013 | 2:03:41 PM
re: Why We Need Digital Government Strategy 2.0
Having just listened to Steve VanRoekel at #ELC2013, it's clear that while he emphasizes the strategic over the tactical, some of these specific mobility issues still need a vehicle to be addressed and carried forward. Some good touch points here.
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