State plans to hike cloud spending, scale back digital diplomacy

The State Department wants to invest about $22 million more in information technology this year, according to justification documents accompanying President Obama's proposed fiscal 2013 budget.

By far the largest share of that increase would go to cloud computing initiatives, including building a "private cloud" for internal use and a "community cloud" for interagency and external collaboration. The increase in cloud funding totals about $26 million, which would be offset by cuts elsewhere in the department's IT budget.

Funding for digital diplomacy initiatives, which includes major internal IT systems as well as outreach programs involving social media and other technologies, would dip about $7.3 million.

State's total projected IT funding is $239 million compared to $218 million in fiscal 2012.

The cloud budget request is $140 million, up from $114 million in fiscal 2012. About $9 million of that cloud funding will go to establishing an initial version of the Foreign Affairs Network, effectively a cloud service that other federal agencies such as the Agriculture and Treasury departments can use to support their overseas operations.

"The FAN will improve information sharing and collaboration, which is vital in pursuing U.S. foreign policy objectives, and will also increase efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery through economies of scale," the justification said.