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Managing Records in Mobile Environments: Background and Benefits

by on March 13, 2014


Wi-Fi

The following blog post reflects the thoughts of NARA’s Records Management Policy Team on the topic of managing records in a mobile environment. We will explore the benefits, records management implications, and best practices that have emerged to address these challenges in a series of three blog posts. The team is not at the point of creating formal guidance, but we would like to have a discussion with agencies about their ideas, thoughts, and concerns on this topic. Please join the discussion in the comment section.

In this first post, we explore the current mobile environment and the many benefits to agencies. In May 2012, the White House issued the Digital Government Strategy with three objectives:

  1. Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.

  2. Ensure that, as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.

  3. Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.

This strategy pushes agencies to create an environment for mobility by offering government information, data, and services to the American people and their increasingly mobile workforce wherever they are and whenever they want. Agencies are encouraged to create an “information-centric” environment with the goals of interoperability and openness. This has led many agencies to provide employees with the capability to access government assets or environments through agency provided applications or thin clients when they are not in the office.

Additionally, the increasing use of mobile devices is one of the latest trends in improving how Federal employees perform their work. Mobile devices allow employees to access agency email, databases, resources, and systems while not at their desk.

Federal agencies often provide their employees with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to perform work and meet the agencies’ mission. Agencies are increasingly adopting policies that support  “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD where employees can use their own devices to perform government work. According to Robert Brese the Chief Information Officer at the Department of Energy, “[I]t’s just a matter of when, not if we will all be bringing our own mobile devices to the work environment.” Since the release of the Digital Government Strategy, a number of agencies have piloted BYOD programs and shared their lessons learned.

Some of the benefits for working in a mobile environment include:

  • Reduced costs for the agency by not having to provide government furnished equipment

  • Increased employee choice over the types of devices used for work

  • Increased employee productivity and flexibility when employees can work when and where they want

  • Adaptability to a changing workforce and improved job satisfaction

  • Easier sharing of resources among employees and their customers

What do you think about the increased use of mobility in the Federal government? Is this a trend you see in your agency?  Please comment below.

In future posts, we will look at records management implications and discuss how Federal records management may be affected.

Image credit: ”Wi-Fi” by Fuma Ren under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


Comments

Julie Spellman March 13, 2014 at 9:35 am

As a records specialist, I’m concerned with the implications of using our own personal devices for government use when FOIAs enter the picture. I’m hoping you will address that concern in the 2nd or 3rd post. Thank you.

bcron March 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

Hi Julie, thank you for your question! That is a great point and definitely an area for concern. We do want to hear more about policies and technologies that agencies are considering to address situations like this.

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