EPA Doesn’t Know How Much It Uses the Cloud, IG Finds


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The agency says it has 11 cloud contracts, but the IG doubts that number.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't know how many cloud computing contracts it has nor how secure they are, an audit has found.

“The EPA did not know when its offices were using cloud computing,” the agency’s inspector general concluded in a report released Thursday.

In at least one case, according to the IG, the agency may not have had access to a subcontractor’s cloud for investigative purposes. That same subcontractor also was not compliant with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which sets security standards for cloud providers.

“EPA does not have an office or a group that centrally manages cloud service contracts,” the report found.

EPA reported it had 11 cloud contracts, but the IG doubted this number, saying it was determined by searching for the word “cloud” in procurement descriptions -- a method that yielded inconclusive results.

“The auditor became aware of one application incorrectly listed as a cloud application and two applications that appear to be cloud applications not included in the survey results,” the IG said.  

The IG focused on one particular Office of Water contract the agency did not initially report as a cloud contract -- the Permit Management Oversight System application.

In this case, the cloud service provider, a subcontractor, did not sign a nondisclosure agreement, the IG said, but instead only had a service agreement with the primary contractor. The contract also did not contain language permitting EPA to conduct digital forensic investigations for criminal or noncriminal purposes without interference from the cloud service provider.

The cloud service provider in this case also was not FedRAMP compliant, the IG found.

EPA took issue with this fact, noting the contract in question was for technical support to develop a develop and maintain the agency’s permitting-management system, not to procure cloud services.

“However, in response to the solicitation, vendors proposed their best technical solutions for completing performance work statement tasks, and the awardee offered a technical solution that included the cloud, which was provided under a subcontract,” Craig E. Hooks, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, said in his response to the IG report.

But the IG held firm that even though the agency wasn’t looking for a cloud-specific solution, “the contract should have included terms and conditions specifically on the performance of cloud services for those parts of the contract hosted in the cloud.”

(Image via kzww /Shutterstock.com)