Kundra: System will give agencies easier access to new technology

A storefront for federal agencies will provide a consumer-like way to buy technology

A new storefront for the federal government will let agencies acquire cloud computing technology as easily as consumers can sign up for Gmail accounts, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said today.

Under current rules, it can take an agency 18 months to two years to acquire technology that is available instantly to consumers, Kundra said at the Cloud Computing Symposium held at the National Defense University in Washington. The experience of acquiring technology for personal use and buying it for the government should be the same, he said.

The storefront will provide that access to cloud computing technology, he said. “We will abstract all the complexity for agencies so they do not have to worry about federal compliance, certifications and accreditations. So literally,  you’ll be able to go in as an agency and provision technology on a real-time basis.”

A federal cloud computer working group is examining how government agencies can use the technology. There will likely be a shift toward service-oriented technology in three areas: software as a service, platforms as a service, and infrastructures as a service, Kundra said.

Agencies are often slow at adopting technology because the acquisition process is too difficult and complex, Kundra said. Agencies sometimes build technology in-house at 10 times the cost of commercial tools because in-house work is easier, he said.

Plans are also under way to build a federal government cloud specifically for sensitive information, Kundra said.

A major problem for agencies in adopting cloud technology is that in a public cloud, organizations do not know where data is physically stored. A private cloud controlled by the federal government would alleviate that problem, Kundra said.

Federal agencies need the flexibility of having access to both public and private cloud computing environments, he said, adding, “The reality is we cannot operate in just one world.” 

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jul 17, 2009 Dan

For someone to say that it takes "18 months to 2 years" for the government to procure technology demonstrates a dire lack of knowledge of the federal procurement process. There are over 5,000 vendors currently on the Group 70 GSA Schedule, a contract vehicle which offers the latest and greatest technology under very streamlined procurement rules (See FAR 8.4). Sites like GSA Advantage put all these vendors' products at the fingertips of government buyers. There simply is no "18 month to 2 year" delay. Federal buying regulations must strike a balance between the need for access to current technology and the need to ensure that federal dollars are spent with responsible vendors that can provide that technology at fair and reasonable pricing. GSA's IT Schedule program already provides this balance. While no one would ever say that the GSA Schedule process is perfect, the hardware, software, and services available on the Group 70 contracts really do offer the government the latest and greatest technologies at nowhere near the mythical multi-year delay asserted by CIO Kundra.

Thu, Jul 16, 2009 jt Tennessee

I totally disagree that building in-house technology costs 10 times as much. As much as what? Outsourcing and then paying through the nose for every mod and annual maintenance??? At least in-house technology is our agency's intellectual property (IP). It is subject to our security measures and monitored by us. The users and designers here answer to the same top boss so if we need something tweaked, we don't have to beg for the outside vendors time and cooperation to make little changes. We also don't get charged BIG BUCKS for little work. Plus, anything we design in-house that is common to other government entities similar to ours could actually be shared or "sold" to bring in revenue for our department. It seems that most agencies don't realize IP is salable .

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