Updates on the Federal Data Front

Posted by Instor on Oct 4, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Here’s a look at what’s been happening on the federal data front since we last updated you on the JEDI project back in July. 

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Photo by James Ball

Here’s What’s Happening with Cloud Smart and Other Fed Initiatives

On September 28, 2018, the $852 billion funding bill, a legislative short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), was signed thereby averting another Federal Government shutdown. Its intent is to allow enough time for the remaining appropriations bills to be signed into law and to extend the expiration date to December 7, 2018. Coincidently, the eleventh hour trifecta was elaborated in a Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference which included:

  • The Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act, 2019
  • The Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations, 2019
  • The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019

The DoD is forging ahead with migration to the cloud in advance of other agencies – the DoD must submit cloud budget reports to the House and Senate before obligating funding for the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) and the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contracts. Although many DoD programs lack of transparency, DoD had aligned fiscal years 2017 through 2019 budgets reported where IT funding is being spent as it aligns with the 10-point IT Modernization Plan on how it plans to deliver on the DoD Cloud Enterprise.   

The single-sourced Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract had a $10 billion cap over a decade for the DoD. It had an initial rocky start in July and August 2018 and now has had an amendment to extend the period of request for proposals (RFPs) until October 12, 2018. As quickly as the RFP was published, industry quickly filed protests in what looked like a cookie cutter approach in favor of Amazon – an unfair advantage since Amazon had been awarded the CIA cloud contract previously. Also, Dana Deasy, the new DoD Chief Information Officer (CIO) came on board and immediately directed his staff to “pause” on the JEDI so that a “full top-down, bottom-up review” could be conducted prior to release of the final RFP – Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 is estimated to invest $30 billion in IT so DoD must get this right.

Given the timing of what had transpired over a few months in what seemed to be hysteria and turbulence had resulted in confusion for the industry and lack of confidence of the Federal Government to manage cloud-based contracts. By September 2019, Congressional appropriators had issued HR 6157 Conference Report which restricted funding for the JEDI cloud contract in accordance with the 2019 defense spending bill.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Federal Cloud Computing Strategy (Cloud Smart) is a reboot of the Obama Administrations’ “Cloud First” policy. It is a shift of the cloud strategy and policy which relegates authority on Federal agencies for completion of 22 action items that must be met within an 18-month window. This strategy now focuses on four tenets:

  • Cloud Smart: defining cloud computing modernization and maturity.
  • Security: Trusted Internet Connections, Continuous Data Protection and Awareness, The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and the 2018 Cybersecurity Reference and Resource Guide.
  • Procurement: Category Management, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), security requirements for contracts.
  • Workforce: current and future skills gaps, reskilling and retraining employees, recruiting and hiring to address skills gaps, employee engagement, and removal bureaucratic hiring barriers

The core of the strategy focuses on enabling and equipping agencies with tools to help make “IT decisions in accordance with their mission needs, and leverages private sector solutions to provide the best services to the American people.” All of the initiatives and current year events continue towards investing in technology architecture and further commitment for the long haul.

It’s been more than six years since the U.S. Government began the push towards an IT modernization including the creation of new policies and initiatives. The more recent 2017 Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization plan parlayed previous administration efforts to improve cybersecurity and thrust the government towards substantial IT technology investments.  

The IT Modernization plan established the vision and defined the requirements - instead of agencies going it alone. The Government now has a consolidated voice from senior leaders with recommendations that addressed two major issues: modernization and consolidation of networks and use of shared services.

The Federal Government has typically invests more than $80 billion on IT annually – FY2017 had shown $60 billion was spent on operations and maintenance (O&M) and $20 billion was spent on research and development (R&D) with a decline of $7.3 billion in R&D since FY2010. This pales in comparison against an annual military budget of $600 billion – FY2019 budget requested $716 billion for national security and $686 billion specifically for the DoD. Although IT investments continue to rise, the FY2019 estimates indicate $29.4 billion to be spent on non-major investments and $7 billion on major investments; this is an increase of 1.3 percent 4.3 percent, respectively over FY2017 according to the Fed’s ITDASHBOARD. This has resulted in fewer contracts but larger contract awards are the new normal with a focus on General Services Administrations’ (GSA) contract services.

Topics: News