DoD, NIST take different routes towards the cloud

The Defense Department and the National Institute of Standards and Technology seem to be at opposite ends of the cloud computing spectrum.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported recently that cloud computing will continue to be a major priority for NIST in 2011.

President Barack Obama’s signature of the America Competes Reauthorization Act makes sure of that.

“The America Competes Act is our authorization bill and it sets out the authorities that govern what the agency does,” NIST Director Patrick Gallagher said. “It’s critically important because it specifically reauthorizes NIST to do all our mission activities, including the levels of funding for major programs and fine tunes specific authorities around programs.”

Gallagher said some of the agency’s top goals are to promote a secure IT infrastructure across the country, expand the use of cloud computing, help enable trusted interaction on the Internet between citizens and businesses, and promote innovative manufacturing for large and small businesses alike.

While NIST is taking cloud computing by the horns, the same can’t necessarily be said for DoD.

Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports, “A Congressionally-mandated report outlining a new approach for delivering information technology in the Defense Department contains good recommendations, but fails to look outside the Defense industrial base’s traditional methodologies.”

The report was conducted by the IT Acquisition Advisory Council (IT-AAC).

John Weiler, vice chairman of the panel, told Federal News Radio, that the report failed to even mention the potential use of cloud computing as a way to help transform the Pentagon’s IT acquisition processes. Agencies have been mandated to use a cloud-first policy when evaluating options for new IT deployments.

“DoD’s report stayed within the Defense industrial complex and their close-knit network of FFRDCs [Federally Funded Research and Development Corporations]. The FFRDCs helped write this report, and their knowledge and experience is limited to the Defense community, so therefore new ideas like this didn’t make it in,” Weiler said. “The dialogue wasn’t there, the interaction wasn’t sufficiently there. I think it reflects how difficult change can be in an establishment like the defense industrial complex. The barriers are still present to change.”

Listen to Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller discuss NIST’s 2011 priorities with Director Gallagher.

Listen to Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu discuss the DoD acquisition report.

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