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White House Seeks to Spur Cloud-Computing Use by Agencies

U.S. government agencies would use standard security requirements and contracting language in purchasing cloud-computing services under a program unveiled by the Obama administration.

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program also would include a pre-screened list of cloud-computing service providers, Steven VanRoekel, the U.S. government’s chief information officer, said during a conference call today.

The program is aimed at spurring wider agency adoption of cloud-computing, which the Obama administration has said would help reduce the $80 billion in federal information-technology spending. The cloud is a Web-based pool of shared computing resources such as software and data storage.

“Not only are we saving money by moving to the cloud and getting more operational efficiency, we’re also eliminating legacy systems,” VanRoekel said.

Agencies have eliminated 50 legacy systems and shifted 40 services to the cloud to date, while OMB has identified 79 services that will make the transition by June, VanRoekel said.

VanRoekel said the program announced today is intended in part to ease concerns among technology officials at U.S. agencies that the cloud is less secure. The program announced today will be rolled out in phases and become operational in six months, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. are among technology companies competing for federal cloud-computing contracts.

‘Appropriately Funded’

The program may be a “game-changer” that helps agencies transition to cloud services with the necessary security, Jennifer Kerber, vice president of federal homeland security policy for TechAmerica, a Washington-based technology industry trade association, said in an e-mailed statement. Kerber said the program should be “appropriately funded.”

The success of the effort “will be determined by how well these new standards are applied, which will require continued collaboration and evolution,” Andras Szakal, vice president and chief technology officer for IBM U.S. Federal, said in an e-mailed statement.

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