Are these the best federal assets to leverage for future success?

The government’s move to the cloud should be a catalyst for information sharing between agencies, the federal government’s new procurement chief said Sept. 17.

Speaking at a FedInsider’s IT modernization and cloud event, Michael Wooten, the new administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said that cloud computing provides an opportunity for agencies to break out of the siloed system that prevents agencies from sharing today.

“The move to the cloud environment now means that they are sharing the space with other agencies. This provides a huge opportunity to share information across the government. However, the fragmentation of the federal government makes this information sharing challenging,” Wooten said.

Wooten said that because cloud service providers sign with one specific agency, they are reluctant to share that data with the offices of the federal chief information officer and chief information security officer. As an example, he used an analogy of an agency being a tenant in a CSP’s condo (in this case a data center).

“What we lack is a tenants’ association,” Wooten said. “The landlord has a responsibility to keep the condo safe from intrusion and the tenant should be able to alert the other tenants when they see a threat.”

Agencies, Wooten said, should have a responsibility to alert other agencies about a threat.

“We need to clarify the responsibility of each tenant and the landlord in the federal government,” Wooten said.

Wooten also touched on the bundled cybersecurity services that CSPs provide, allowing agencies to save money and time. Though he called the solutions “cost effective and easier to manage” than integrating separate technology themselves, Wooten warned against vendor lock-in — a situation in which an agency is heavily dependent on one provider.

“The acquisition community needs to work together to find solutions to maximize competition, ensure small businesses are able to participate and ignite innovation in the post-cloud environment,” Wooten said.

Concerns around vendor lock-in swirl around the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud, the Defense Department’s enterprise cloud that’s potentially worth $10 billion over 10 years and will hold 80 percent of DoD systems — though Wooten did not mention that contract.

Wooten also called for the adoption of category management principles laid out by the Office of Management and Budget this year, specifically mentioning standardization of requirements, strategic supplier relationship management and information sharing. He praised DEOS, the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions — the DoD’s enterprise cloud email contract, worth $7.6 billion over 10 years (though currently under protest).

In his speech, Wooten said that he wants to build on the work of the President’s Management Agenda and said he needs the help of employees and industry.

“Where some see challenges in our size, scale, workforce and data systems, I see assets — assets that we can use as leverage to gear up for the future,” Wooten said.

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