Army enterprise e-mail, DOD cloud: What happens next?

The defense authorization bill would put potentially time-sensitive technology plans on hold for DOD -- maybe for better, more likely for worse.

As far as legislation goes, it was a stunning turn of events: Tucked inside the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act is language halting some of the Defense Department’s most ambitious IT efforts.

According to the provisions, the Army’s enterprise e-mail program will be defunded pending its designation as a formal acquisition program and a renewed, in-depth review, and DOD’s transition to cloud services through the Defense Information Systems Agency will stop and the department will be ordered to focus on commercial options instead.

What does all that mean for the next chapter of defense IT?

It’s been a long road for the government’s move to the cloud, an approach that has come to be seen as the cure-all for Washington’s budgetary malaise. If IT is going to be the driver of federal savings in 2012 and beyond, the cloud is riding shotgun.

With enterprise e-mail and DISA’s establishment as a priority source of cloud services, DOD has largely been steering itself alongside broader federal directives, such as Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel’s mandates on data center consolidation. But under the authorization act’s provisions, Congress has sought to wrest control.

That could be both a good thing and a bad thing.

“The [act’s] language in some ways is beneficial for the initiatives [DOD CIO Teri Takai] has been trying to drive and fits into some of the larger, governmentwide initiatives around ‘cloud first’ and data center consolidation,” said Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president for national security and procurement policy at TechAmerica. “But it also disrupts the planning that was going on both at the Army and DISA. And there probably are a number of other entities that were looking at the DISA-provided cloud functionality. So all those things that were in motion are now suspended.”

On the one hand, the time-out will force DOD to sort responsibilities, set up more collaborative and deliberative planning, and establish governance for programs that would likely require significant upfront investment.

“It appears as though Congress wants to make sure that the acquisition processes and procedures, which equate to checks and balances, for major expenditures are exercised in order to ensure DOD is going down the right path,” said Gary Winkler, former program executive officer for enterprise information systems at the Army and founder of Cyber Solutions and Services.

Hodgkins said Congress might be looking to empower the DOD CIO's office after authorities were restructured under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates just before he retired.

“The genesis of this legislation was in the broader government effort to drive…IT efficiencies through management and acquisition reform,” Hodgkins said. “DOD and the intelligence community were reported to be able to save billions potentially by taking advantage of those things, but there were some issues with the authority being unclear.”

The obstacles ahead

On the other hand, the legislation puts the department way behind schedule in an area of procurement that is especially sensitive to turnaround time. Will the technology withstand such a delay, or will DOD continually be one or two evolutions behind?

After all, if the programs in question are put out for bid to the private sector, DOD would have to spend time identifying requirements, conducting market research and carrying out all the due diligence required of a major acquisition program. By that time, the leaders behind DOD’s cloud efforts and the Army’s enterprise e-mail — Takai and Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, respectively — might not even be in those roles anymore, as Robert Guerra, a partner at federal consulting firm Guerra Kiviat, pointed out.

“The question becomes: Who’s going to be the champion?” Guerra said. “If a program doesn’t have a champion behind it, it’s going nowhere.”

As Congress brings DOD’s drive toward the cloud to a screeching halt, a fog of uncertainty obscures the road ahead.

“This was designed to empower DOD and create some metrics that can be used to really get at the savings we’ve seen all the agencies talk about — the billions of savings they all believe they can achieve if they can do robust data center consolidation and robust cloud technology adoption,” Hodgkins said. “The devil will be in the details.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.