Political news headlines have been abuzz in regards to the missing emails that congressional investigators consider pivotal to the investigation of the IRS and Lois Lerner. Although the federal government instituted a “Cloud First” initiative several years ago, many legacy systems are still in place and according to reports; the IRS is still using legacy email systems. Many cloud computing analysts have been surprised that there is absolutely no trace of these emails that were seemingly destroyed. Other cloud analysts such as Rebecca Carroll at Nextgov mention, “IRS emails wouldn’t have vanished in the cloud.”
The IRS email scandal is a prime example of why cloud services such as inbox storage and automatic data backups are essential for government agencies. It also highlights the importance of bringing all federal institutions under the cloud umbrellas so that data loss does not happen in such a high profile case. As this scandal continues to be politicized by both Democrats and Republicans, Americans regardless of political affiliation can agree that we need a transparent government that practices what it preaches. In the eyes of a technology enthusiast, that means getting as many government activities hosted in the cloud as soon as possible.
Michael Hall, a Chief Information Security Officer that works for a data recovery company in the DC area was quoted by NextGov as saying, “Cloud service providers have serious redundancy in their cloud. A single point of failure will not cause a data loss. It’s still possible, but it’s much less likely. That’s just the reality of that.” Michael Hettinger, a Senior Vice President at TechAmerica weighed in by saying, “Obviously, there are agencies in the federal government that still run fairly antiquated email systems and other IT systems. It’s an interesting window into how far we still have to go despite all the progress we have made in implementing new technology.”
As more top computing analysts weigh in on this story, there seems to be more outrage in the fact that the IRS was using outdated email systems when better cloud alternatives are readily available and these alternatives have been in-use by the US government for quite some time. For example, on the General Services Administration website, there is a commercial service contract template available for agencies wanting to move towards cloud based email. The template on GSA.gov’s website mentions that Email as a Service is available for government agencie. The GSA website mentions that EaaS includes: “Email cloud solutions, migration services, integration services and more.” While Democrats and Republicans continue to trade barbs over the IRS Email Scandal, proactive solutions such as email in the cloud for all federal employees will likely become a hot discussion topic as this news story continues to unfold.