As the workplace becomes increasingly mobile, the federal government is opting for devices other than BlackBerrys. The Obama Administration announced a Digital Government Strategy for federal employees to access workplace networks from mobile devices without compromising privacy and security concerns. In accordance with this strategy, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and National Institute of Standards and Technology developed a baseline of standard security requirements for mobile computing and a framework design to reference in designing security and privacy protections. This would allow federal employees to use a range of popular brand devices without compromising government networks and leaking information, and even allow some offices to implement a bring-your-own-device policy instead of on government-issued devices.
Technology insiders applauded the government’s decision to develop the mobile technology to permit federal employees to work remotely. A survey of federal managers and federal workers found that each employee would add an additional seven hours each week in productivity, amounting to $14,000 in productivity gains. Of those federal workers who already have mobile device access, they spend a weekly average of nine additional hours on top of their full-time work schedules checking in to their workplace networks. Almost half of these workers report working more efficiently outside the office.
The Department of Agriculture forked over $20 million to several companies for MDM integration which is now one year behind schedule and malfunctioning. Perhaps if the USDA hired one of the companies approved by the GSA for mobile management solutions, then the USDA would not be having these rollout problems. Or maybe if the USDA required a demonstration of the bidding companies’ capabilities for MDM integration in the USDA’s network, then USDA employees would now be using their own iPhones and Android to access their workplace servers. Instead, the USDA paid three contractors $20 million.
Testing before handing over taxpayers’ money would have shown that one contractor’s software is not compatible with part of the USDA’s network security infrastructure. Eight months after the MDM system was supposed to have completed a 30-day, 3,000 phone test phase, this test phase has been pushed back, and the USDA is still just testing one component of the contractor’s incompatible software to determine whether the software will be used or abandoned. According to the USDA’s Request for Proposal, the agency already supported more than 3,000 mobile devices before the $20 million project and hoped to expand the number of mobile devices to more than 100,000 over the next few years. As of late July, only 1,370 devices were on the USDA’s MDM system.
Surely, given the failure of the MDM integration at the USDA, other federal agencies would restrain themselves from awarding millions in taxpayer dollars to these contractors without first testing their product? Think again. One of these three contractors was awarded $212.1 million in government contracts just in 2013. The contractor with the incompatible software has several multi-million dollar government contracts with the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, and the Air Force. Instead of pouring millions of dollars to fix “glitches,” taxpayers would prefer their money go towards testing new technologies first to prevent such rollout problems.
Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.