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DHS tries new cloud services acquisition method

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The Homeland Security Department is using a new method to pay for cloud services--put money onto a contract with a variety of line items and allow an as-needed drawdown of the funds, said Keith Trippie, executive director for enterprise system development within the DHS office of the chief information officer.

The approach involves ensuring that a contract has many line items calling for different types of cloud services--and involves a degree of risk, Trippie acknowledged. He spoke Dec. 17 during a panel of the Federal Cloud Computing Summit in Washington, D.C.

"On our side--on the business side, the program side--we have to be very good at managing our responsibilities" in controlling the drawdown of funds, he said.

Nonetheless, drawdown accounts resolve the problem of how long it takes within the federal government to move money onto an active contract, Trippie said.

During the panel in which Trippie spoke, General Services Administration acquisition official Mark Day said his agency has identified four steps any cloud acquisitions goes through.

  1. Establishing a relationship with the cloud provider. "You establish a relationship, but that doesn't mean you've turned on every virtual machine you might want," he said.
  2. Provisioning services. "Theoretically, it goes up and down, although up seems to be predominant, at least in the early stages."
  3. Implementation and operations. "Are you getting the delivery of what you bought? How do you know?"
  4. New acquisition. "How do you get out of the contract and get to the next guy?"

Day, who is acting deputy assistant commissioner for GSA's Integrated Technology Service, also said his agency has noticed that stand-alone procurements for cloud services are heavily outstripped by procurements that include bundled services such as integration and legacy support.

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