Recovery.gov finds new home in the cloud

Oversight board expects $750,000 savings this year from moving stimulus tracking Web site to commercial cloud platform

The federal Recovery.gov Web site that tracks economic stimulus law spending has been moved to a commercial cloud computing infrastructure to reduce costs and improve efficiency and security.

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which authorized the transfer, said the shift will result in savings of about $750,000 over two-and-a-half and “significantly more savings” in the long term. In addition to achieving savings, the transfer to the cloud will free the board from its duties managing the Web site data center and related computer equipment, the board said. The cloud infrastructure is operated by Amazon.com’s EC2 commercial cloud service.

Security also will be enhanced through greater protection against network attacks and real-time detection of system tampering, the board said, describing the security as a layering of Amazon.com’s security on top of the board’s own security system.

“Cloud computing strikes me as a perfect tool to help achieve greater transparency and accountability,’’ Earl Devaney, chairman of the recovery board, said in a statement today. “Moving to the cloud allows us to provide better service at lower costs. I hope this development will inspire other government entities to accelerate their own efforts. The American taxpayers would be the winners.’’

“Recovery.gov is the first governmentwide system to move to the cloud,” White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra wrote in a blog posting today. “The move is part of the [Obama] administration’s overall efforts to cut waste and fix or end government programs that don’t work. By migrating to the public cloud, the Recovery Board is in position to leverage many advantages including the ability keep the site up as millions of Americans help report potential fraud, waste, and abuse.”

As a result of the transfer, the board said it will redirect its computer capacity to oversight and fraud detection operations.

“The board will have the opportunity to redirect more than $1 million in computer hardware and software to its sophisticated oversight operations, a move that will help identify fraud, waste and abuse in the recovery program,” the news release said.

The move to the Amazon.com cloud service will save about $334,000 this year, and $420,000 next year, for a total of $750,000 over the board’s two-and-a-half year budget cycle, Devaney said in a conference call with reporters. Overall, the board’s total budget is $18 million provided by Congress; about $7 million has been spent to date, he said.

The recovery oversight board made the decision to shift the information to the cloud, and the board’s prime contractor for Recovery.gov, Smartronix, Inc., selected the Amazon.com cloud, Devaney said.

“We always planned to go to the cloud someday,” Devaney said.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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