Action plan published for US Government departments to improve cyber security and adopt cloud platforms
The massive effort to modernise US federal IT systems will be concentrated on improving security, adopting commercial cloud platforms, and getting rid of obsolete tech right across government agencies.
These were the recommendations in a new report from the White House in which it reveals its final plan to modernise Federal IT platforms beginning 1 January 2018.
The final action plan contained in the report comes after President Donald Trump in the summer met with the chief executives of some of the leading tech firms to help kickstart the government’s digital transformation initiative.
President Trump’s plan to modernise federal IT systems had begun in May this year, when he vowed to transform’ US Government IT infrastructure.
He formed a technology organisation called the American Technology Council, which is specifically designed to “transform and modernise” US government IT systems.
That decision came after a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that many government systems are using outdated and often unsupported components. The report had estimated that the US government spends more than $80 billion (£62bn) a year on IT, but still uses parts of IT systems that are at least 50 years old.
For example, a system used by the Department of Defence to co-ordinate the US’ nuclear forces uses 8-inch floppy disks, and the Treasury Department’s master file of tax data on individual business income tax payers dates back to the 1950s and runs on an IBM mainframe.
Traditionally, US government agencies have typically brought their own IT systems independently, but there has been recognition that this results in a lack of common standards and lack of coordination, which in turn increases inefficiencies.
“This report envisions a modern Federal IT architecture where agencies are able to maximise secure use of cloud computing, modernise Government-hosted applications, and securely maintain legacy systems,” the report stated.
It details a number of actions that will allow government agencies and department to “move from protection of their network perimeters and managing legacy physical deployments toward protection of Federal data and cloud-optimised deployments.”
It also wants to “consolidate and standardise network and security service acquisition to take full advantage of economies of scale.”
And the report wants to enable the “use of Commercial Cloud. Improve contract vehicles to enable agencies to acquire commercial cloud products that meet Government standards.”
The transformation of the US government IT systems is part of the shakeup of Washington promised by President Trump.
He has already ordered lawmakers to carry out cutting government measures to reduce spending by $3.6 trillion over the next decade. That cost cutting has seen federal agencies being ordered to stop providing updates on the Y2K bug.
Trump has also signing an executive order to upgrade US cyber defences, a move that has been broadly welcomed by industry experts.
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