Baker: Federal CIOs will embrace a 'bring-your-own-device' strategy in less than 2 years

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HOT SPRINGS, Va. - In less than 2 years, federal agencies will allow workers to use a single, employee-provided mobile device for work with the ability to connect to the network, predicted Veterans Affairs Department Chief Information Officer Roger Baker.

"Vivek was right. It's not going to be that long until we start saying to our employees, 'I don't know what you want to have as a personal device, but here's 500 bucks. Go buy it and that's what you're going to use to access the infrastructure,'" said Baker May 17, while speaking at the ACT-IAC Management of Change Conference in Hot Springs, Va.

The phenomenon, often referred to as consumerization of the enterprise, was first seriously considered in February, when Federal CIO Vivek Kundra revealed he was looking into a move to "employee-owned" mobile devices which could disintermediate centralized IT departments.

Without directly naming the devices, Baker implied that iPhones and iPads will soon be authorized to connect to the VA network. An iPad pilot program is currently underway at VA.

Overall, VA is working to better meet employees' device and application needs, said Baker. "I want to be the Chief Yes Officer," he added. 

Telling workers "no," often results in the introduction of unapproved mobile devices and unauthorized cloud services anyway, simply because employees want to use tools that help them do their job better, he said. Baker recently said VA is working to give employees access to commercial cloud info sharing sites by the fall.

Reflecting momentarily on his uncertain future at VA, Baker--a political appointee--said he's working to ensure efforts toward cultural change aren't wasted. VA cannot creep back to the old way of doing things, said Baker.

"A couple months ago I was quoted as saying I was worried about whether or not the Program Management Accountability System would survive, if and when I were to step out. The good news on that is I believe it will. I think it's my job to make certain that happens," said Baker.

Baker also said he is placing a renewed focus on enterprise architecture following a May 11 hearing of the House Veterans Affairs' subcommittee where Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) emphasized VA's need for a high-level view of its IT architecture.

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