Federal agency mobile workforce spending reaches $1.6 billion

The U.S. government has, in recent years, greatly expanded its efforts to leverage mobile technology. These solutions have the potential to herald significant business transformation for government agencies, improving worker productivity and job satisfaction.

According to a recent study, expenditures in this area have reached a new high mark. However, despite these costs, government agencies have yet to fully realize the value offered by mobile technology.

Great expenditures
The study, "Mobility Progress Report: Are Federal Agencies Passing the Test?" was conducted by the Mobile Work Exchange, a public-private partnership that aims to encourage mobility solutions. The report found that the federal government has invested approximately $1.6 billion to mobilize its workforce since the launch of the Digital Government Strategy initiative.

However, the report found that all of this money has not resulted in satisfactory results for many agencies. Among those surveyed, only 56 percent of federal IT managers said that their agencies now take full advantage of mobility.

Security concerns
The survey found that there are a number of obstacles preventing federal agencies from further embracing mobility solutions. Among these, security was paramount. Nearly half of respondents said that security concerns held back mobility progress in their departments. This was followed by a lack of sufficient funding, agency culture and procurement complications.

"As the number of diverse mobile devices in the federal government continues to rise, data security and mobile device management will lead in the conversation," said Doug Bourgeois, vice president of end user computing for the U.S. public sector at VMWare. "IT and HR managers agree that security concerns are holding their agency back from taking full advantage of mobility, which in return is also affecting employee retention and recruitment efforts."

Progress on the horizon
While security and other issues are likely to persist, the federal government is still making progress toward better utilizing mobile solutions, the report concluded.

"Federal agencies are taking more and more steps towards graduating to the digital world, but are not quite yet at their full potential," said Cindy Auten, general manager for the Mobile Work Exchange. "With reported gains in COOP, employee productivity and overall efficiency, it builds the business case for agencies to invest in mobile technologies."

Mobility's business process benefits are both significant and expansive. By leveraging these tools, federal agencies can remain operational even in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, the report noted.

The utility of such capabilities was fully on display this past winter. In March, a final snowstorm shut down the federal government for the fourth time that season, the Washington Times reported. This marked the most snow-related government closures since the "Snowmageddon" of February 2010.

With mobility and telecommuting technology in place, though, many government agencies could remain operational even during such events. This level of resilience could more than repay any investment made in these solutions.