Federal IT professionals are forecasting rapid growth of mobile devices within their agencies, according to a new report released this week.

More usage of mobile devices in the federal government could add $2.6 billion worth of labor hours in federal productivity, according to a new report.

Federal IT professionals expect tablet use within the federal work force to climb from 7 percent of total users in 2011 to 19 percent in 2013, according to the report by MeriTalk titled Mobile Powered Government. Underwritten by VMware and Carahsoft, the survey of 152 federal level CIOs and IT managers released this week projected smartphone use to increase from 35 percent to 43 percent

To satisfy the added demand, the federal government workforce will need to add approximately 533,000 tablets and 355,000 smartphones in the next two years, the report said.

“If the addition of smartphones enables federal workers to be even 10 percent more productive, the federal government could add $2.6 billion in federal productivity by 2013,” the report said.

Other key findings:

• Federal  IT executives identify security risks (78 percent), IT staffing (43 percent), and the diversity of devices and platforms (39 percent) as the most significant challenges; and

• Federal agencies already are working on solutions to mobility challenges – encryption, desktop from the cloud, shared calendars, and mobile applications top the list of solutions.