The federal Chief Information Officers Council announced in mid-July 2019 that it had brought together a Federal Mobility Group to address the evolving definition and emerging advancements of mobile technology.
According to Renee Wynn, CIO for NASA and the executive sponsor of the new mobility group, the members — selected from previous mobile technology expert groups — have already established what of an agency’s mobile plan takes top priority.
“We’ve divided the mobility focus into four categories: mobile security, acquisition, 5G mobile network infrastructure and mission enablement,” Wynn said at an Aug. 6 Advanced Technology Academic Research Center mobility event.
“And mission enablement is last, [but] not because it’s the last thing on our minds. It’s what we are striving to achieve; it’s our vision; it’s what we need to do; and it’s also what we have to deliver in a more tactical environment, not just a strategic.”
Mobility is becoming increasingly central to both how government employees execute their missions and how citizens interact with the government.
Sam Navarro, vice chair of FMG and the program manager for wireless mobility services at GSA, said that a recent Department of Homeland Security study found that more than half of the traffic that comes to .gov sites originates with mobile devices.
“Government is not immune to these trends,” Navarro said.
According to Wynn, security has to come first in mobility considerations because attaching security to a system or device at the end only makes addressing cybersecurity that much more difficult.
“Security has to be from the beginning. We didn’t do it when we invented the internet,” said Wynn. “We didn’t think about security when we did that, and we’re all paying that price.”
Policy will also have to keep up with advancements in technology, so that agencies know which security considerations to prioritize.
“OMB is already beginning to think about what policies need to begin to change in order to enable this, because otherwise CIOs like myself are going to have to make risk-based decisions that are outside some of the policy frameworks if they don’t catch up,” said Wynn.
Acquisition goes hand-in-hand with security considerations, as the devices and systems agencies acquire have to be built with security in mind.
“Supply chain risk management: we can’t just bring in anything into the federal government, unless, of course, you don’t care where your data go,” said Wynn.
“In this instance, acquisition is not only to have easy tools required to enable your mission, but it’s also making sure that the things that you acquire, hardware and software, are as secure as possible, or you know what the risks are and you can make risk-based decisions where you can mitigate those risks.”
Finally, Wynn stressed that agencies need the infrastructure to support mobile efforts, or risk needing to undertake complicated and ultimately expensive workarounds.
“I have infrastructure that was invented for us to get to the moon. Yes, we still have some of that,” said Wynn.
“If your infrastructure is not ready, you’re going to be making a more complex system when you think about going mobile, and you need to be thinking about office and mobile all at the same time. And so the infrastructure is key to it, or you cannot get the data that you need without doing a set of gymnastics.”