VA Mobile Device Rollout: An Update

Mobile Device Management System Procurement on Horizon
VA Mobile Device Rollout: An Update

The Department of Veterans Affairs will soon solicit bids from vendors for a robust enterprisewide mobile device management system, says CIO Roger Baker. Meanwhile, the VA's ambitious plan to roll out mobile devices remains on hold.

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Baker has said that the system for monitoring devices must be implemented to help ensure information security before the VA moves forward with plans to implement more than 100,000 mobile devices, primarily for clinical purposes.

Last October, Baker had predicted that the rollout of mobile devices would be completed within about 18 months. But earlier this month, Baker issued a revised forecast, saying the project now will likely take several years (see: VA Revamps Mobile Device Plan).

In an Aug 24 press briefing, he further explained: "I believe the procurement for the MDM is imminent, and the rollout [of devices] is dependent on getting it in, getting it installed and making it available for more than the 1,500 devices that our current MDM is licensed to support."

Addressing the delay in issuing a request for proposals from MDM vendors, Baker said: "It just takes longer to get all the requirements necessary to go out with an RFP. This is an area where I won't say we're forging entirely new ground, but it's not something we've done a whole lot of times before. [We] want to get it right. ..."

Baker noted that the VA is analyzing the results of a request for information from the vendors. "There's a lot of work with vendors to make sure when we put out something like this, everyone can bid, and we're not excluding anyone," he says. "And with the scale we're going out with, I'm sure everyone wants to participate."

BYOD Strategy Change

Baker also confirmed during the briefing that the VA will take a much more cautious approach to allowing staffers to use personally owned mobile devices on the job than originally planned. Last year, in announcing ambitious plans for a shift to mobile devices, Baker said the VA expected to accommodate a mix of government-owned and personal mobile devices to help hold down costs.

The VA still has "intentions" to support a bring-your-own-device strategy, Baker said. But he noted that it no longer plans to be a trailblazer and will use the best practices that are being recommended to all federal agencies tackling BYOD.

On Aug. 23, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council issued a BYOD best practices guide (see: Implementing BYOD Initiatives: 3 Case Studies).

"I'm looking forward to incorporating that in what we do," he said about the new guide. "We've just got to be careful with [BYOD]; there are pros and cons. VA has thankfully gone from being a leader in the discussion of BYOD to a follower, and I am really happy with that. It's a complex area."

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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