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Hurdles remain for BYOD adoption

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Agencies are making progress in crafting and piloting bring your own device, or BYOD, mobile strategies, but several challenges remain. Reimbursement is one unresolved question facing agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

"We've gone through the process of getting the legal approvals that say that we will pay, in some form or fashion to support that. We haven't figured out how to adopt that yet," said Steve Manning, associate chief information officer of user and network services at IRS, while speaking Nov. 15 at an AFCEA Bethesda event in Bethesda, Md.

The IRS may use a subsidized model, where it would instruct employees to go to pre-selected providers for subsidized prices. Or it could simply contribute a flat reimbursement amount per month, toward the costs associated with the phone, said Manning.

"The reimbursement challenge is something that I think is the next level in BYOD," said Kimberly Hancher, CIO of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Her agency is working with the General Services Administration's office of governmentwide policy to work through their reimbursement model. Although it's not yet settled on the best approach, Hancher said it could be similar to employees' transit benefit, in the range of $10 to $20 per month to cover mobile costs.

"It's de minimis. It's a little bit of money. So, we should be able to crack that nut," said Hancher.

Another challenge at IRS is acquiring technologies that enable BYOD.

"The final question is really, honestly around what provider we're going to be using and what technology we're going to be using," said Manning.

Hancher said that in small agencies such as EEOC, there isn't the bandwidth to handle many acquisitions and they rely on governmentwide vehicles.

"I've reached out to big agencies because I want to just move my stuff to a better-performing contract and I can't because their contracts are written for their agency," said Hancher.

Brad Nix, chief information security officer at the Agriculture Department's food and nutrition service, said a mobile FedRAMP could be one solution to the problem of acquiring BYOD-friendly wireless contracts and mobile services.

"We're just talking about an overlay technology here," said Nix. "With a little bit more thought and a little bit more pre-planning about how it can be used governmentwide, it will give us a lot more opportunity--especially with the smaller agencies to utilize more innovative solutions."

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