FedScoop Interview: Rick Holgate


Question: Who knows more about mobile computing than a man with two jobs?

Answer: Rick Holgate, chief information officer and assistant director for science & technology at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who for the past four months has served as the co-chair of the Federal Mobility Strategy Task Force, helping Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and the White House guide the strategy’s development.


“It’s been interesting, for sure,” Holgate told FedScoop.

Holgate started with the task force in December, working with 50 to 75 government practitioners in a community of interest around the current status of mobility in the federal government to establish what a federal mobility strategy should look like.

“We’ve tried to take a very proactive approach to learn what people are already doing in government and to harness that in the best ways possible,” Holgate said.

Holgate has also led a working group with the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council. It helps that his day job at ATF has him in the heart of the federal mobility movement. For the past year, the agency has run a mobile pilot project to put iPhone devices in the hands of special agents.

The project looked to gain experience of incorporating, managing and securing the devices inside the Department of Justice’s enhanced standards. Holgate said the agency has distributed iPhones to more than 2,400 ATF agents. That program is just one of many major initiatives Holgate and his deputy CIO, whom he credits with allowing him the flexibility to take a lead role on the Federal Mobility Project, are currently working on.


For instance, ATF is finalizing a contract to transition its email to a commercial cloud computing hosting provider. Part of that has been setting up the security and protection concerns because of the sensitive data the agency deals with as part of the Department of Justice. It will also be one of the services the agency is migrating to the cloud as part of the Office of Management and Budget’s mandate.

ATF is also transforming its case management environment and is on the cusp of tangible actions, something Holgate said will be a primary focus the next six to 12 months.

“The changes we are making are pretty significant,” Holgate said. “It’s also about changing the way people can get their jobs done.”

And that could only be getting better. With new DOJ CIO Luke McCormack, Holgate said there are a number of exciting opportunities for supporting agencies to work as a group such as creating a common property management system, VoIP services, new collaboration tools or an email as a service operation.

“There are a lot of areas for exploration, and many of us are eager to work with him (McCormack) to see where we can take our technology,” Holgate said.

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