The federal government could save $14.4 billion in year one by migrating to cloud computing, according to a private industry report released this month.

But those savings likely are far from being realized. The “Federal Cloud Weather Report” commissioned by VMware revealed while 64 percent of the federal CIOs surveyed expect cloud computing will reduce costs and improve services, 79 percent of federal agency CIOs still aren’t using the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) “Cloud First” policy.

The policy, which was announced in Dec. 2010, requires agencies to choose an existing cloud solution, if applicable, before building a new IT program. Additional direction was given in February with OMB’s Federal Cloud Strategy, which mandates agencies moving one service to the cloud within a year and two more services to the cloud in 18 months.

One-hundred-sixty-seven federal CIOs and IT managers were surveyed in January via e-mail to gauge their agencies’ usage and opinion of cloud computing. Interviews and analysis were conducted by MeriTalk, an online government IT community.

“Our goal was to check the cloud migration status to get a better feel on how to help partner with the federal government, find out what their challengers [are] … and provide some recommendations to them on how to move forward with cloud computing,” said Aileen Black, vice president of government sales for VMware.

The report also found that e-mail is the most popular application considered for migration, with 42 percent of the federal IT managers surveyed considering the move for their e-mail systems. But the study showed that few agencies are in the cloud, with most in the discovery and planning stages regarding it.

Despite 79 percent of those CIOs surveyed saying their agency is not currently using the “Cloud First” policy, 64 percent indicated they will adopt the Cloud First policy in the next two years. But 71 percent of CIOs and 66 percent of IT managers cite security as a hurdle to that adoption. 

To that point, federal agency CIOs and IT managers were asked about the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which provides a consolidated point for governmentwide security authorization and related risk management activities of cloud computing systems.

Sixty-four percent said that while they understand the program, they aren’t optimistic it will help. Of that group, 67 percent believe FedRAMP will not make federal cloud computing more secure.

For more information and to download the study, visit MeriTalk’s website.

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.