The Gaithersburg-based National Institute of Standards and Technology has drafted guidelines for securing all mobile devices, whether government-issued or personal.
"When this was initially floated two years ago … many reacted as if it was an impossible thing to do," said Adam Sedgewick, a senior information technology policy advisor for the NIST.
"Today, we're seeing greater expectations that BYOD is something that the government needs to consider, while developing related security guidance."
Private companies are wrestling with the same challenges of balancing security with convenience, Sedgewick said. Many industries have voluntarily adopted the NIST's guidance for their own systems.
The federal government is also looking to states as managers draft plans to deal with personal devices. Officials in Delaware unveiled a bring-your-own-device policy two years ago that the OMB and others say demonstrated the challenges and opportunities agencies may face as they adopt their own.
More than 1,000 state workers have opted to use their own devices under that policy, said Bill Hickox, chief operating officer for Delaware's Department of Technology and Information. Users agree to several layers of security on their personal phones — including giving their employer the ability to wipe the device remotely — and receive $40 a month to reimburse them for personal voice and data plans.
The pilot program saved more than $100,000 in technology costs, Hickox said. But enrollment slowed as wireless companies began limiting the amount of data users can access on a phone in any given month.
The state has decided to keep the program voluntary.
Hickox said officials developed the security policy because they recognized the inevitability of state employees incorporating personal technology into their work routine.
"Instead of saying, 'No, you're not allowed to do it,' we recognized that people are going to try to do it," Hickox said. "They're already doing it today."
Bring your own device
The use of personal mobile devices by federal employees is increasing, which is creating new challenges for agencies.
•More than half (55 percent) of federal employees who use a smartphone for work use their own devices.
•Only 11 percent of employees say their agency has a personal device policy in place.
•Nearly six in 10 employees say their agency could take better advantage of mobile devices.
Source: Mobile Work Exchange