End of Fiscal Year 2012 Sparks Federal Cloud Computing Expansion

As the fiscal year draws to a close, the United States’ government agencies are apparently taking the Office of Management and Budget’s new cloud-first guidelines to heart. Over the last several days, agencies have been rushing to award contracts with their remaining budgets in an effort to avoid returning the excess to the Treasury. NextGov reports those contracts include a $9 million cloud computing services contract for the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, an $850,000 cloud hosting contract for the Department of Education, an $8.5 million award for records management services for the Environmental Protection Agency, and a $2.3 million contract that will provide the Coast Guard with the ability to update patient records from mobile devices.

The Obama Administration has steadfastly supported the expansion of cloud services, which began as a 2010 mandate from the OMB to its fellow agencies, requiring them to pinpoint services which could be made more efficient by being pushed to the cloud. President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal reinforced the effort: “By consolidating data centers and leveraging cloud computing the Federal Government will reduce the Nation’s data center footprint, strengthen security, and yield savings in the form of real estate, energy, equipment, and maintenance costs that can then be redirected toward the projects with the greatest benefit to the American taxpayer.”

The government’s broad-based cloud initiative has thus far included efforts to transition to e-procurement (which the Treasury estimates should save approximately $450 million per year), shore up the military’s supply chain management, save costs through automated inventory management software, more efficiently maintain records, and track fixed assets, with more to come as agencies identify additional areas which can be made more cost effective and efficient by leveraging cloud services.

The OMB estimates the U.S. government is currently saving approximately $5.5 billion per year due to its cloud initiative and expects that number to rise to more than $12 billion as agencies continue to transition services to the cloud.

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