cloud award

FCC’s cloud program wins award

The Federal Communications Commission's work on moving its systems to the cloud earned it recognition as one of the 2017 CIO 100 -- CIO.com's award program honoring business and technology innovation. Although the majority of the  winners are large private-sector companies, public-sector organizations make up roughly 10 percent of this year's group.

The FCC was honored with a  CIO 100 in 2015, making it the only two-time government honoree -- a distinction that FCC CIO David Bray attributed to the teamwork that's taken hold among the IT staff as they've aggressively embraced the cloud.

"It's truly a team honor," Bray told FCW, a sister site to Government Cloud Insider. There was significant resistance from career IT staff when he first came to the agency and began pushing to move legacy systems to the cloud, he noted, but now "we really do gel as a team." And while the 2015 honor was for the FCC's initial cloud-migration project, this year's award recognizes the agency's sustained and successful shift.

"We don't have anything at all on-prem at this point," Bray said. Looking toward "an eighth year of no budget increase, we're showing we can still do things."

Those efforts have been recognized within the federal IT community as well -- Bray and FCC Senior Adviser Tony Summerlin both won FCW's Federal 100 award in 2015,and two FCC IT projects were finalists for last year's GCN dig IT Awards. The General Services Administration recently stood up a Federal Cloud Center of Excellence and recruited Bray to chair it, hoping other agencies can learn from the FCC's experience.

"We showed that we could fund additional IT on a flat budget," Bray said of his team. "Now the push is to demonstrate that other agencies can do that too." If the government put a man on the moon in less than nine years, he noted, "surely we can get 75 percent of systems to the cloud in 2.5 years!"

The working group, he said, is trying to tackle the biggest barriers to cloud adoption: procurement, workforce education, standardized offerings and security concerns.

Many of the cloud-security fears are unfounded, Bray said, but there is still room for improvement. If multiple agencies are buying the same software-as-a-service solution, he said, ideally there would be a system where "DHS scans it once, and then is responsible for continuing to scan it. Agencies shouldn't DIY their cloud security."

Similarly, he said, cloud procurement should be better centralized. More contract vehicles are available now than when the FCC embarked on its migration, but Bray said the prices different agencies pay for the same cloud service can still vary by a factor of 10.

The group is making good progress, Bray said, and it plans to put out a playbook this summer. Recommendations also will be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget and could inform future governmentwide cloud policies. 

There's a real sense of urgency to get other agencies both comfortable and empowered to move most services to the cloud, Bray said. Thanks to his team's efforts over the past few years, the FCC can now "deliver things faster, more effective, more resilient," he said. Every agency needs to be able to "transform government at the speed necessary to keep up with the changing world."

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


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