Government, Security, and the Cloud

Government often has the reputation of being somewhat inefficient and bureaucratic.  While that may be the common perception, the government has taken steps to bring itself more up to date technology-wise.  In 2010, the Obama administration unveiled ‘Cloud First’, which was designed to take more advantage of cloud computing.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel recently praised the ‘Cloud First’ initiative and argued that it will benefit both the government and taxpayers. Now, VanRoekel’s new initiative, ‘Future First’, hopes to further improve and maximize government efficiency through additional innovation.  Through this program, VanRoekel argued that “[v]isionaries and risk-takers can tap into underutilized human capital, technology, information and other resources, picking up the pieces to reassemble them into something completely new… The beauty of innovation is that it is an endless resource.”

In keeping with this theme, a number of agencies and departments increasingly find themselves on the cutting edge.  The Department of Agriculture has started using iPads while conducting surveys. After approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, iPads have also made appearances on charter planes, replacing traditional paper navigational charts.

Some still have their doubts about such initiatives.  Sean Collins Walsh of the New York Times remarked that “the Government has also developed a reputation of wastefulness for pouring money into projects that grow in scope over time without delivering significant results, or for building immense hardware systems that are unnecessarily duplicated among agencies.”

With the increasing reliance on cloud technology, however, comes security and privacy concerns.  Government officials, cognizant of these issues, have taken steps to prevent any breaches or compromise any information.  “No data are stored on the device,” explains Mark Harris of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics, “[i]f the device is broken, lost or stolen, data are not compromised.”

Posted by: Georgina Ellison

Sources: The Atlantic Wire, Bloomberg, USDA,

Photo credit: Clouds on Blue Sky courtesy of flickr user leolintang


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