VA Planning Expansion of Mobile Devices for Use on Department Network

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to expand employees' use of smartphones and other mobile devices on its network by October, according to VA CIO and Assistant Secretary for IT Roger Baker, Federal Computer Week reports (Lipowicz, Federal Computer Week, 7/1).

Although Baker did not say which devices clinicians and other employees would be able to use, he said VA would focus on a "particular set of very popular devices." Currently, the BlackBerry smartphone is the only VA-approved mobile device for employees (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 6/30).

Issues Surrounding Use of Devices

Baker said that details about how the devices would be connected, used and procured still are being determined.

VA is considering two ways to let employees connect using mobile devices:

  • An employee would use a mobile device to access network applications, such as data on the VistA electronic health record system, in a "read only" mode; or
  • An employee could use a mobile device to download and store encrypted data in limited amounts.

In addition, Baker said VA is considering letting employees use their own mobile devices to connect with the VA network. The department would install security and encryption applications on a personal device, and data could be cleared off the device if it were lost (Federal Computer Week, 7/1).

Baker added, "We will be highly confident that anything that is storing information on the device has encryption."

It also would be possible to have a large acquisition of devices across VA facilities, but Baker said that "by the time we were able to get a contract awarded, it would be time for the next generation of the device" (Government Health IT, 6/30).


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