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February 06, 2014

Federal Agencies Struggling to Make Good on Cloud First Initiative

While the Cloud First mandate seems like a great idea in theory, it is presenting a major challenge to federal agencies when it comes to implementation. A new report from Accenture (News - Alert) Federal Services and the Government Business Council finds that the 2011 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, known as the “Cloud First” initiative, is proving difficult for many agencies as they struggle to comply with staffing challenges and time-consuming procurement processes.

The report finds that while government respondents realize the cost savings and budget reduction benefits of cloud adoption, they lack the resources to develop and implement cloud strategies. This is mainly due to a lack of necessary staffing along with the lengthy procurement processes required to stay in compliance with the initiative.

The Cloud First mandate requires federal agencies to evaluate cloud options before making any new IT investments. And yet a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has found that out of 20 cloud migration plans submitted by federal agencies to the GAO only one lone plan was complete. Only 10 percent of agencies have migrated more than half of their IT portfolios to the cloud, which isn’t a very encouraging number.

"While there are initial challenges in the adoption of cloud computing, it holds the potential to play a major role in increasing government efficiency and service delivery," said Annette Rippert, managing director, technology solutions, who leads Accenture's federal cloud work. "When properly executed, government agencies have much to gain in transitioning to the cloud."

But executing a cloud strategy is viewed as a challenge by a majority of federal agents, with two-thirds of survey respondents lamenting that their agencies lack the skilled staff required. Nearly half of respondents said training would be necessary to develop cloud adoption skills, running at between $25,000 to $50,000, and 31 percent stated they would need to hire at least one new employee to fulfill requirements.

When it comes to implementing actual cloud strategies, the outlook is even bleaker, with only 30 percent of respondents taking action and a mere four percent of those agencies building new cloud environments. A shocking 58 percent were unaware of any cloud strategy plans for their agencies, while 10 percent were integrating new and legacy systems to a cloud platform.

It would appear that when it comes to cloud migration and adoption, the federal government has quite a bit of catching up to do to keep apace of the private sector and municipalities. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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