The life of a public CIO is hectic, packed with meetings, on-site visits and endless communications with IT managers and government business executives. For these reasons, CIOs quickly embraced the wireless handheld device called the BlackBerry as a critical tool for keeping connected, whatever their location.

First introduced in 1999 by Research In Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry has skyrocketed in popularity and today is the world's most popular smartphone with more than 40 million devices sold and nearly 16 million subscribers using RIM's wireless services.

Like their private-sector counterparts, government CIOs have found that the BlackBerry, in addition to providing phone service and wireless e-mail access, can be used as a personal productivity tool with a variety of third-party software programs. Government IT executives can download an array of applications that keep them accessible, informed and even entertained.

With so many third-party applications to choose from, here are the ones most suitable for today's public CIO on the go. Below is a list of the top BlackBerry applications sure to fulfill a variety of CIOs' needs.

Travel/Navigation Applications

MapQuest Navigator

A navigation system with maps and turn-by-turn directions displayed on the BlackBerry screen, this application can help CIOs navigate unfamiliar territory while on business trips.

WorldMate Live  E-mail your trip information to WorldMate and it will give you gate information and real-time alerts on flight delays. You can even access e-tickets and confirmation numbers, saving busy CIOs valuable time.

News/Weather Applications

The Washington Post

Staying informed is essential for any public CIO. Receive news from Washington, D.C., and around the world. Other news applications include CNN, Newsweek and CNBC.

The Weather Channel

Be one step ahead of the weather when you travel. The Weather Channel application for the BlackBerry provides access to forecasts, radar maps and severe weather warnings for thousands of cities worldwide.

Team Management Applications

IBM Lotus Connections

Being away from the office doesn't mean an end to group collaboration. With the features of desktop IBM Lotus Connections on the BlackBerry, CIOs can connect and share information with colleagues, collaborate with teammates on projects and search for internal subject-matter experts.

BlackBerry Unite!

This application allows you to stay in touch with your team and keep up with their progress while you're away. View, share and even save pictures, presentations, documents and more.

Finance/Banking Applications

E*Trade Mobile Pro

For the traders in the public sector, E*Trade Mobile Pro allows users to make trades via their BlackBerrys. The application gives users stock and options trading, real-time quotes, live watch lists and other options for the savvy investor.

Bank of America  Check your account, transfer funds and pay your bills, all on your BlackBerry. The application also located the nearest ATM or bank.

Miscellaneous Applications

Shozu

Stay connected with co-workers, friends and family with access to Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger and other social networking sites.

Viigo RSS Reader

Read your favorite blogs on the go. Viigo allows you to read any RSS feed on the Web by storing updates on your BlackBerry.

With an ever-increasing number of downloads and applications, the BlackBerry is a hot commodity for the busy public CIO. However, BlackBerry users might want to keep an eye on the latest trend in wireless devices: the iPhone. As Apple comes out with newer, more advanced versions of the iPhone, it looks like the BlackBerry might face some stiff competition.