CIO Scott seeks new framework for government cloud

Tony Scott  (Photo: VMware)

Federal CIO Tony Scott wants cloud service providers to re-imagine government-scale architecture.

The devastating hacks of the legacy systems at the Office of Personnel Management are a reminder that government needs to move off of antiquated IT and into modern systems built with integrated security.

Federal CIO Tony Scott is urging cloud vendors to come up with solutions that operate at the government scale.

"My pitch to the cloud companies is: This is where the money is," Scott told FCW after his speech at an Association for Enterprise Information event on June 30. "The consumer market is great, but there's some limit to where that goes."

Right now, cloud transition efforts are fragmented and uncoordinated. "Every agency is doing some cloud stuff," Scott said. "But when you go to the core of the matter and the heavy lifting where all the work is done, that's not moving very fast."

Right now the effort is just in the talking stages. But ultimately Scott hopes to persuade cloud providers that the time is right for government to move to cloud not just for data storage or email, but for a new generation of large-scale public facing applications. He envisions a framework for a "platform baseline" that is vendor agnostic and applicable to public, private and hybrid systems. The time is right, Scott said, from the point of view of the maturity of cloud technology. "It's good enough now that we can start investing in some of those big, heavy, weight-carrying platforms," he said.

Scott said that some kind of basic framework for big cloud-based government services applications is a good place to start. He's hoping to address "common patterns across the federal government," like permit applications, information requests and other citizen- and business-facing services in which data is submitted, ingested, circulated and adjudicated.

"That general workflow is deeply coded in every legacy system in the federal government," Scott said. "You can generalize that and create cloud platforms that basically do that work, and then you could put agency-specific rules or work processes on top of that. But the core underlying engine could be a common framework to do that work."

Legacy systems, Scott said, are just a computerization of paper-based workflows. "Everything behind the screen is paying homage to just the internal, old-fashioned business model that we engaged in," Scott said. A move to the cloud, with re-imagined, re-architected business processes "will be a transformative kind of experience. It won't be a lift and shift of what we have today."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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