Listening to Government Workers Demands Could Save Agency Budgets

Jul 03, 2012

In Steven VanRoekel’s latest blog post,, he announced the formation of a Digital Services Innovation Center and said a new advisory group has begun working on a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for federal employees.

In his post, Mr. VanRoekel described the Digital Services Innovation Center as a “virtual hub” designed to operationalize the principle of “build once, use many times,”  supported by agencies across government, to incubate and accelerate innovative digital services.

Second, Mr. VanRoekel convened the first meeting of the Digital Services Advisory Group which will help steer implementation of the Digital Government Strategy, prioritize Innovation Center activities, and recommend government-wide best practices, guidance, and standards.  He said that the Advisory Group has already begun to work with the CIO Council and Federal Web Managers Council on two early deliverables: guidance and best practices on allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work (known as, “BYOD”), as well as agency-wide governance models for digital services.

Why is this important?  At the same time as his announcement, Meritalk announced the results of their new poll that clearly shows government workers want the latest and greatest technology at work, just like they have in their personal lives (  According to the poll, 67% of Federal employees wish that the technology issued to them at work could keep up with the changes in technology in their personal lives. The survey indicated that many Federal employees have already adopted a wide array of technology tools for use in their personal lives – 99% use email, 81%use Web mail, and at least 93% bank or buy items online.

Even age does not appear to be the primary variable for technology adoption; as more Feds age 56 to 66 use video conferencing/chat than the 35 to 55 age group and 76%have been going online for news and other related material. The problem gets worse the younger the employee: for Feds 35 and younger, 80% wish that work tech could keep up with personal tech. Finally, 64% disagreed with the statement:  “it takes me longer to get used to new technology at work than to the new technology in my personal life.”

We need a comprehensive BYOD program.  Not only in government, but in industry as well.  The separation of work life and home life is now much harder than ever before. And there are good solutions coming from vendors like VMware and Citrix.  Solutions with a dropbox-like product, except more secure and managed by IT.  Solutions like single sign on to your virtual desktop as well as your SaaS applications.  And solutions that let work manage the work applications on your personal device without intruding on your personal applications /data/ life. We are beta testing some of these in our lab and the results are very promising.

Lastly, we have been promised a telework initiative that makes sense for a long time now.  I heard this week that the cost to provide a desk for a Federal worker is around $14,000 per year.  At that cost, we can all justify some of our workers teleworking on a very regular basis!

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