A government agency heads for the clouds
Happy Friday! The folks keeping tabs on the economic stimulus program took a big technological step recently by moving the government's popular stimulus-tracking Web site to "the cloud."
"Cloud computing" allows data and software to be stored in remote data centers rather than on-site servers, providing significant savings to an organization's capital costs and environmental footprint. Much like Gmail users store their e-mails and documents on Google, or Flickr users post and save their photos on the photo-sharing Web site, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is now using Amazon servers to post and save stimulus-related information viewed on Recovery.gov.
"We are saving taxpayer dollars, about $750,000 over the next year and a half, and we expect to reap even more savings in the years to follow," RAT Board Chairman Earl Devaney wrote this week on his blog. "Consider this: We are a small outfit with four dozen employees, so imagine if other, much larger federal agencies were to follow our lead -- the savings would be magnified many times over."
Indeed technology companies -- eager to reap the financial and PR benefits -- have been pushing federal agencies to move to the cloud for the past two years. "Cloud computing" is an integral part of the Web 2.0 movement and, by extension, the Gov 2.0 revolution.
Federal officials have openly worried however that storing government data on public servers could make it vulnerable to hackers and other security breaches.
The Recovery Board is using Amazon's security capabilities to protect the stimulus data, and Devaney assured users that his security team could refresh and restore data in five minutes if there's an attack.
Plus, stimulus data is meant to be public. "None of our data is confidential," Devaney said. "The whole idea is to display the data in a user-friendly and transparent way."
Indeed if the Recovery Board's efforts work, it should signal to other federal agencies responsible for other public information that it's time to start looking to the clouds.
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• Thanks Paul: We're sad and happy at The Post today as we send off our innovations editor, Paul Volpe, the mind and man behind the relaunch of PostPolitics.com. Paul will join TBD.com, a new local news Web site launching soon from the owners of Politico and WJLA-TV. Paul joined The Post at the height of the 2008 presidential campaign and is responsible for much of the national and political content you see at washingtonpost.com. He also helped launch The Federal Eye and often provided his ideas, encouragement and reassurance to yours truly. All this while being a husband and father of two young children. We'll miss you Paul, and we wish you well.
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• FCC chairman looks to reassure cable industry: He talked about the agency's commitment to taking a narrow approach to cable regulation and about willingness to find a solution for cable-industry concerns.
• House panel supports bigger raise than requested for military: A House panel approved a 1.9 percent pay bump for uniformed military personnel, half of a percentage point higher than suggested in Obama's fiscal 2011 budget.
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• Holder vows to pursue Times Square suspects abroad: He told a House panel Thursday that federal authorities continue to believe the Pakistani Taliban was behind a May 1 attempted car bomb attack in Times Square.
MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE:
• MMS ignores environmental permits: The agency has routinely issued drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico since 2009 without obtaining other federal permits needed to account for the toll energy exploration would take on endangered species and marine mammals.
| May 14, 2010; 7:35 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener
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