A Cloud for the GI Bill System

At the Thursday <a href=http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20090625_2930.php>hearing</a> hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee on the post-9/11 GI bill, Mark Krause, a Veterans Affairs Department program manager who works at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, said he is eyeing the use of cloud computing to host a spiffy new claims processing system for education benefit claims.

At the Thursday hearing hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee on the post-9/11 GI bill, Mark Krause, a Veterans Affairs Department program manager who works at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, said he is eyeing the use of cloud computing to host a spiffy new claims processing system for education benefit claims. The network is supposed to go into operation in December 2010.

In response to a question from Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M., Krause told the hearing that if VA bought new hardware to host the new, totally automatic claims processing system it would cost about $4.2 million and indicated SPAWAR could get a better deal by using cloud computing.

Call me a cynic (another term for realist), but I wonder how good a deal VA will get from SPAWAR on cloud computing. The VA inspector general reported earlier this month that SPAWAR charges the department a 10 percent program management fee compared with a 2 percent program fee charged by the Defense Information Systems Agency and a 3 percent fee charged by the General Services Administration.

Here's an idea: Maybe VA/SPAWAR should talk to DISA about using its cloud computing environment to host the claims processing system. DISA says it can turn on a cloud computing service in 24 hours and runs the servers in really secure facilities.

DISA is precluded by law from offering its computing services to nonDefense agencies, but since SPAWAR is part of Defense, maybe this would get around that hurdle -- and definitely worth exploring.