Government technology: Mobile transformation for the federal government

By Will Kelly

An illustrated mobile phone with a government building on the screen.
IBM

Mobility is becoming the backbone of enterprise technology. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about mobility in government technology. Yet the federal government could benefit from more efficient management through mobile transformation.

Imagine government agencies with mobile-enabled workers accessing real-time data from devices to better serve taxpayers. A mobile government means a better emergency response due to better access to real-time data. It also means improved continuity of operations during winter storms and power outages, when federal workers would have difficulty getting into their offices.

Mobile transformation at the speed of government

It helps to look at each federal government agency as an independent institution with its own mission. Civilian agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are prime candidates for going mobile because they have large field workforces and regional offices. Since they both have enforcement arms, access to real-time data and applications can help agents make better enforcement decisions in the field.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is home to mobility initiatives inside the Pentagon, according to Federal News Radio. The Defense Information Systems Agency — the DoD’s IT department — has an enterprise app store that serves as a hub for DoD mobile apps. There’s also information about the Defense Mobility Unclassified Capability, which provides commercial-grade mobile devices with secure business tools for the department’s servicepeople and civilian employees.

Service branches such as the US Army are developing mobile training apps for soldiers’ devices. According to Interference Technology, the Navy is using a suite of eSailor apps to train sailors. These apps can reach prospective recruits who grew up as part of the smartphone generation, and they can reinforce what service people have learned in class while they’re deployed.

Government technology acquisition cycles run much longer than commercial procurements, and they can’t keep pace with the evolving mobility market. However, it’s safe to expect procurement changes: Agencies are experimenting with outcome-based procurements from 18F, an organization charged with improving the government experience. After the procurement changes, agile development and DevOps will likely grow, and custom mobile apps will become standard as agencies deliver apps as quickly as consumer developers.

The future of mobile government

The White House’s Cybersecurity Executive Order could help increase the pace of mobile transformation. The order mandates strengthening federal cybersecurity through cloud-based services and infrastructure. The strengthened cybersecurity measures should result in updated security tools, including two-factor authentication and derived credentials.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a bright spot in the government’s mobile transformation thanks to its mobile security work. According to GCN, the agency has made a significant investment in app security and released an important study about mobile device security. DHS efforts could bolster the case for more government agencies to go mobile.

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Another factor in the government going mobile is employee telework. The General Services Administration has approved over 90 percent of its roles for telework, according to GovTechWorks. Unscheduled telework is a frequent message on radio and TV around the Washington, DC, area when it snows, raising even an infrequent need for mobile device access.

While the federal government is currently behind the times, its mobile transformation will continue as the cloud becomes even more of an IT standard across government agencies.

Written By

Will Kelly

Technical Writer & Content Creator

Will Kelly is a technical writer and content creator focusing on cloud computing, software-as-a-service, and enterprise mobility. He started his writing career writing technical documentation for commercial and federal government clients but now focuses on thought leadership content.…

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