New House bill calls for cloud interoperability 

Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C., co-sponsored legislation that would task GSA, CISA, NIST and USDS with crafting multi-cloud guidance for federal agencies.

Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C., co-sponsored legislation that would task GSA, CISA, NIST and USDS with crafting multi-cloud guidance for federal agencies. Tom Williams / Getty Images

New, bipartisan legislation tasks the government with guidance to assure data interoperability between public, private and edge cloud environments in use by the federal agencies. 

A new House bill introduced Tuesday aims to help ensure data interoperability and security for federal agencies deploying multi-cloud systems.

The Multi-Cloud Innovation and Advancement Act — cosponsored by Reps. William Timmons, R-S.C.; Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.; Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y.; and David Trone, D-Md. — proposes that the General Services Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the U.S. Digital Service jointly craft guidance to help ensure that federal agencies can securely use multiple cloud networks.

The guidance would show how agencies can deploy “multi-cloud software technology to allow for applications, data and programs to be portable and interoperable between public, private and edge cloud environments,” and lay out an implementation roadmap to ensure multi-cloud usage by no later than Jan. 1, 2025. 

“Multi-cloud solutions allow users to distribute data across multiple different cloud systems, and they can improve efficiency, enhance security and provide increased flexibility for the federal government. However, the federal workforce must have the necessary capabilities to use this technology,” said Eshoo in a statement. “The bipartisan Multi-Cloud Innovation and Advancement Act I’ve introduced will help move the federal government’s IT systems into the 21st Century by directing the federal government to examine how it can adopt multi-cloud computing and what resources it needs to do so.”

The bill also calls on the head of the Government Accountability Office to submit two reports to Congress: one to assess and offer recommendations on the federal workforce’s digital skills and expertise gap in technology areas like cloud computing and another to assess agencies’ implementation progress of the guidance. 

Cloud security and data interoperability have emerged as key issues in recent weeks following cyber incidents like last month’s hack of Microsoft email accounts at the State and Commerce departments, as well as accusations of anticompetitive business practices by cloud service providers in response to a Federal Trade Commission information request.

Langworthy said in a statement that the new bill would seek to address those issues by providing “robust protocols to shield sensitive national security information and the private data of our citizens.”

Timmons echoed those sentiments, saying in a statement, “Implementing multi-cloud security helps to prevent leaks of sensitive information, allows for constant monitoring of cyberattacks and exposure risks, and creates centralized visibility. As businesses and the private sector move to multi-cloud technology, the federal government should have plans in place to be prepared for a multi-cloud future.”

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on Tuesday.