CBP and Other Government Agencies Begin Cloud Acquisition Process

On 28 February 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Information Technology (OIT) released a Request for Information (RFI) for cloud acquisition support. According to the RFI, CBP is seeking to migrate all CBP applications out of OIT’s National Data Center complex in Springfield, Virginia to commercial Cloud Service Providers (CSP). CBP anticipates requiring multiple vendor services to complete the cloud migration by 2022. They are: engineering support, cloud brokerage services, cybersecurity, and complete program management.

The RFI also follows the Data Center Support Services contract, awarded to Accenture Federal Services, intended to consolidate previous Data Center Support Services contracts awarded to multiple vendors. The new contract requires developing a hybrid cloud environment with integration capabilities with public cloud service providers, which needs to be fully developed by September 2019 when CBP plans on migrating its on-premise applications from the National Data Center. CBP has tasked Accenture with multiple tasks to consolidate IT operations, including IT Program Management, Storage Management, and Data Engineering Services.

These recent actions by CBP align with the 2016 Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), an Obama-era plan requiring Government Agencies to develop data center strategies compliant with the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). Under the DCOI, Agencies are required to transition to and optimize a more efficient IT infrastructure. FITARA is a 2014 law that overhauled Federal IT systems. Since its passage, the Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance and guidelines for the Chief Information Officers of Government Agencies and Departments.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also currently investigating large-scale data migrations to a commercial cloud provider. The FBI’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) recently issued an RFI to understand current commercial cloud capabilities. Like CBP, the FBI is interested in improving the efficiency of their IT systems, as well as optimize tools utilized by the agency. The FBI OCIO has found cloud technology to solve two challenges, hosting and managing big data, and enabling IT operational excellence. Submissions for the RFI were due on 2 March 2018.

These recent actions by CBP and the FBI demonstrate a change in law enforcement agency mentality, which has historically been hesitant to migrate to an all cloud-based system. Many law enforcement officials have cited concerns regarding the reliability of cloud systems in supporting mission-critical applications, such as: computer-aided dispatch, records management, criminal justice information, and intelligence systems. Other concerns included the costs of migrating to a cloud-based system, recovering data from a cloud, and ensuring the law enforcement agency can meet the performance requirements for cloud-based systems. Recent action by CBP and the FBI, however, may serve as an impetus for other agencies to acquire and migrate to cloud systems. Agencies have also recognized recent improvements to cloud-based systems through competition and recent innovations led by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, which have developed cloud services with a focus on Government IT.