The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported via Federal News Radio that seven agencies have made extensive progress in implementing the “cloud first” initiative required by the Office of Management and Budget. The seven agencies being lauded for their transition to cloud computing include Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and the Treasury Department.
The federal government’s “cloud first” policy, which was first implemented in December 2010, provided a set of cloud-based requirements for agencies in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The initiative requires procurement of cloud-based solutions wherever there is a secure, reliable and cost effective means to do so. Several agencies have transitioned right on schedule as of June 2012, utilizing a wide variety of cloud solutions including e-mail, e-procurement, data storage, electronic invoice management and other services.
The transition isn’t always completely smooth, however. According to the article, the most common challenges faced by these agencies as they worked to comply with the OMB’s policy included issues pertaining to: meeting federal security requirements, obtaining guidance, acquiring knowledge and expertise, certifying and accrediting vendors,ensuring data portability and interoperability, overcoming cultural barriers, and procuring services on a consumption (on-demand) basis.
Challenges such as these are easily overcome with access to the right information and an experienced cloud services provider. Venues such as Texas’ Government Procurement Conference allow for vendors, service providers and government procurement officials to meet and share knowledge in an arena dedicated to forging new relationships between the public and private sectors. American business has long led the way in developing better ways to perform business processes, experience that the federal government is now looking to leverage as it works to bring its agencies’ procedures and technologies up to par.