How Can the Government Buy Cloud Computing Most Effectively?

This article was originally posted by Dan Chenok on the IBM Center for the Business of Government blog.

This report, written by Shannon Howie Tufts and Meredith Leigh Weiss at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discuss major issues to address in cloud contracts.

With the movement of government activities to leverage cloud computing, government agencies are now increasingly writing and negotiating contracts with cloud service providers. While agencies have been writing and negotiating contracts for many years, contracts for cloud services present a special set of chal­lenges.

In this important report, the authors present a detailed analysis and recommendations around 12 procurement topics that can help agencies and providers deliver cloud services more effectively. In addition to traditional issues such as pricing, cloud computing contracts require that a variety of data assurance issues be addressed, including data ownership, access to data, disposition of data, data breaches, and data storage location.

This report is based on an assessment of public sector contracts in North Carolina for cloud services. The five case studies included a local government, a state agency, a higher education institution, a local public health organization, and a K-12 public school system.

The case studies are assessed against commonly identified best practices for cloud computing and legal/ regulatory requirements to determine how the contracts were negotiated and whether all nec­essary conditions were met in the contract vehicle. Based on these case studies, the authors present a series of recommendations for government organizations to guide them in the writing and negotiating of contracts for cloud services.

With the publication of this report, the IBM Center for The Business of Government continues our ongoing series addressing cloud computing. In 2012, the IBM Center published Mitigating Risks in the Application of Cloud Computing in Law Enforcement by Paul Wormeli. That report addressed the concerns about cloud computing in the law enforcement community. In 2009, the IBM Center published Moving to the Cloud: An Introduction to Cloud Computing in Government by David C.Wyld. That report addressed 10 major challenges fac­ing government in implementing cloud computing.

We hope that both government managers and contract officers will use this timely and informative report as they develop con­tracts for cloud services in the years ahead.

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