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iPads for All? Tablet Use in Federal Agencies Ramps Up

Photo: Glenn Fleishman

IPads in the hands of everyday users — or even in those of the corporate domain — is hardly a news story anymore. But, what about iPads in the hands of the federal workforce?

The idea has gained traction recently. Nextgov reported earlier this week that the Interior Department has implemented their use as part of a pilot program and is contemplating a wider role for the tablets.

Meanwhile, Vice Chairman at Deloitte Eric Openshaw, who leads the U.S. Technology division there, said iPads and other tablet devices would likely shed their reputation as an expensive toy in favor of a more business-like image.

Above all, the iPad is “noninvasive,” he said, in an interview with Federal News Radio.

“It’s easily brought into meetings. It’s laid out on a table. It’s not an open laptop with an open screen that communicates to everyone else in the room that ‘you’re interesting, but what’s on my screen is more important,’” he explained.

The use of tablets for work purposes also landed on Deloitte’s list of top technology trends for 2011, which predicted that more than a quarter of the devices sold this year will be purchases by businesses.

“This trend will be partly driven by the consumerization of corporate technology, whereby people start to use personal devices for work functions,” the report said.

But, Openshaw said there is more than just the initial price tag — $499 — of an iPad to consider.

“It’s expensive every time you bring on a new device with new operating system and a new set of protocols,” he said. “It typically means more people with more rules and more exposure.”

Meanwhile, federal social networking site GovLoop has noticed the recent buzz about iPads used by businesses but queried the site’s users on who, in the government, is “rolling out iPads in their agencies?”

The General Services Administration’s new Deputy CIO Sonny Hashmi, in a comment on the thread, said GSA is “very interested in diverse endpoints,” and said there were “several [iPad] pilot programs . . . underway.”

And, it appears, Hashmi, is leading by example.

“I have stopped carrying my laptop for most days,” he added.

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