Do Federal Managers Have Their Heads in the Cloud?

A recent study suggests that federal managers, like much of the public, do not understand what cloud computing is.

by / September 19, 2012

There's a problem with the cloud in federal government. According to a recent study by the Government Business Council (GBC), only 24 percent of federal managers felt cloud computing in government was of high quality and only 15 percent reported that they used cloud technology frequently, Government Executive reported. For context, 94 percent of the 548 respondents polled said they believed telephone conferencing was high quality and 85 percent reported that they used that technology frequently.

Either cloud technology in federal agencies really is terrible, or as GBC Research Manager Dana Grinshpan suggested, managers may not have a clear understanding of what cloud computing is. "With regard to the low quality and low frequency scores of cloud computing, it is likely one of a few things are at play: feds don’t know how to use cloud computing, don’t realize they are using it, or don’t actually know what cloud computing is," she said.

If Grinshpan is correct and federal managers really don't understand the cloud, it just means they're average Americans. According to another recent study, many people use the cloud and don't know it. About 95 percent of those who reported never using the cloud actually did, whether through online banking, online shopping, email or social networking. About 51 percent of those polled said they believed stormy weather could interfere with cloud computing.

Whether federal managers understand the cloud or not, there is a broader issue, as only 56 percent of federal managers polled by the GBC said they believed tax dollars spent on technology were being used wisely. Politics may be getting in the way of productive technology policymaking according to a recent report released by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that encourages Republicans and Democrats to work together, compromise and create technology policy that will “restore U.S. economic greatness.”