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Bill would require agencies to report cloud computing progress

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. // Ron Edmonds/AP File Photo

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate would require federal agencies to publish annual reports on their progress shifting computer infrastructure to cheaper and more nimble cloud computing.

The 2012 Cloud Computing Act also would require agencies to provide updates on other goals described in the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, published in February 2011.

The bill, which was introduced in the Senate on Sept. 19 and first reported Thursday by Politico Pro, does not put the force of legislation behind OMB mandates that grew out of the cloud strategy, including making cloud storage the default for new computer systems.

Sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., the legislation is focused primarily on updating the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for the cloud computing age.

Klobuchar planned to introduce the bill in mid-2011 but was delayed after co-sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, withdrew his support. Klobuchar did not issue a press release or make any other public announcement upon introducing the bill, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Cloud storage is significantly cheaper than storing data on in-house computer servers because providers can pack data more tightly and charge customers only for the storage they actually use. OMB has said the government ultimately can save $5 billion annually by moving one-fourth of its information technology budget to the cloud.

Laying out its relationship with the 2011 guidance, the bill states:

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this act and not less frequently than once each year thereafter for four years, the head of each federal agency described in section 901(b) of title 31, United States Code, shall, consistent with Cloud First policy outlined in the document of the Office of Management and Budget titled ‘‘Federal Cloud Computing Strategy’’ and dated Feb. 8, 2011, submit to the administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology of the Office of Management and Budget a three-year forecast of the plans of the agency relating to the procurement of cloud computing services and support relating to such services.

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