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BYOD Moves Ahead in Government – Can You Catch Up?

Bring your own device (BYOD) is changing the technology landscape in government. With a flood of consumer devices entering the workplace, the public sector is looking at ways to use the BYOD concept to improve communications strategies, cut costs, increase employee productivity, and transform collaboration across government agencies.

And it’s working. The BYOD program at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came to fruition out of a necessity to lower costs for wireless devices. Back in the 1990s, EEOC started allocating Blackberries and other handheld devices. The agency spent $800,000 on government provided devices.

“With budget reductions in fiscal year 2012, we couldn’t sustain that cost any longer,” said Kimberly Hancher, CIO, EEOC. “So we created the BYOD program.”

EEOC offered an opportunity to employees to opt out of receiving a government device and instead use their own smartphones. 23% of the employees decided to opt out.

EEOC also looked at the usage patterns of its Blackberry users and found 75% never used the telephone services. “We were also able to move everyone that had a government-provided device to a shared minutes plan at a very low cost level,” said Hancher.

Is your agency considering implementing BYOD? Try out the five Ts – a series of steps that will ensure your BYOD program takes off successfully:

  1. Test: Create a methodical and structured pilot program. Don’t just jump on the BYOD bandwagon; test bringing a few devices into the network. Start small and expand your program.
  2. Talk: Reach out to your agency’s acquisition and legal teams to discover approved contractors, licenses and get some of the privacy and security legal questions answered.
  3. Think: Not everyone at an agency needs a tablet or a smartphone. Make sure before implementing a BYOD program that you make sure the person requesting the device has a strong business case as to why the device will help them do their job better.
  4. Track: Protecting government data is the preeminent concern for any BYOD initiative. Find encryption software that you can install so the data remains safe.
  5. Training: Mobile strategies have been promoted at the highest levels of government. In May 2012, the Obama Administration launched the Digital Government Strategy. At that point, only 35% of adults owned a mobile device, while today that number is nearly 60%. But having a device and knowing how to operate it safely are two different things. Host trainings and seminars on how to secure and use BYOD approved devices appropriately.

What is your BYOD advice? Let us know in the comments.

And if you’re looking to purchase your next smartphone you can see if you qualify for Sprint’s government discount here.

Don’t miss the other articles in our Sprint Series:

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