The Obama administration has asked Congress for tens of millions of dollars to fund one of its key technology initiatives, moving common computer applications and hardware out of agencies and onto networks operated by private service providers, the government's top technology executive said in an interview with Nextgov on Thursday.
In his fiscal 2011 budget request, President Obama asked for $35 million to fund cloud computing programs and other IT initiatives, and another $70 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop standards. Cloud computing and data center consolidation lower acquisition costs and result in significant government savings, said Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.
"[Technology] is shifting to creating value faster for business," he said. "We need to make sure we're spending taxpayer dollars more intelligently and shifting investment across the federal government."
The General Services Administration this year will continue to support cloud computing pilot projects. In September 2009, the agency launched Apps.gov, a platform on which departments can leverage applications ranging from blogs and search tools to text editing and data management. Kundra expects to see applications developed this year for mobile platforms such as the iPhone and BlackBerry, along with a Fedepedia, a collaborative tool within the government domain.
GSA is working with agencies to transfer to the cloud. The Homeland Security Department is consolidating 23 data centers into two, and the Agriculture and Interior departments also have cloud computing initiatives, but that process won't happen overnight, Kundra said.
"It's not an end state," he said. "There won't be a point in time where everything is in the cloud."
Kundra cautioned that part of the process is setting appropriate security parameters and ensuring data can be shared and moved across different cloud platforms. Agencies must submit plans for data center consolidation by May 9. A cloud computing strategy document will be published in the next two to three months, along with security and interoperability standards.
GSA moved USA.gov to the cloud in 2009 and expects to save more than $1.7 million annually.