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Even NASA Has Trouble Managing Mobile Device Policy


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March 11, 2014

Even NASA Has Trouble Managing Mobile Device Policy

By Matt Paulson, TMCnet Contributing Writer

If your company is having a tough time managing mobile devices, you’re not alone. Even the biggest enterprises have trouble adapting to new technologies and practices, and a recent report indicates that even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has trouble implementing mobile device policies. According to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin, the esteemed space agency spent approximately $679,000 in taxpayer money in seven months on mobile devices that went completely unused.

Out of the 16,900 tablets, smartphones, cell phones and Air Cards that the agency issued to their employees in 2013, around 2,300 of them did little more than collect dust in 2013, according to the report. Martin attributes this waste to a “weakness in NASA’s mobile device management practices,” which is a problem that threatens all enterprises that seek to employ a mobile device strategy. Managing mobile devices is difficult already, but once thousands of devices are added to the mix, it becomes several times harder to keep track of them all.

Some of NASA’s problems come from an inability to make a complete and accurate inventory of agency-issued mobile devices. Martin explains that the information system used to order mobile devices from HP, their primary device contractor, is neither fully functional not synced properly with the agency’s database for tracking IT assets, leading to an inability to keep tabs on all devices.

Elaborating on the issue, Martin stated, “Neither NASA nor HP has an accurate inventory of Agency issued mobile devices. [… ] The lack of a complete inventory adversely affects NASA’s ability to verify the accuracy and completeness of ACES invoices and leaves the Agency susceptible to paying erroneous or excessive charges.”

One of the many threats that rise from having loose devices connected to the secured NASA computer networks is that a malicious party could covertly gain access to the network. This could lead to secret NASA communications being compromised, either by being leaked to the public or even sold to a foreign space or military program.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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