US Department of the Interior seeks $1b single-vendor cloud contract

Plan is to consolidate DCs, cut costs and carbon under one-CSP-to-rule-it-all deal

The United States Department of the Interior has posted a final solicitation for a $1 billion cloud computing services contract that runs for 11 years and will be awarded to a single vendor.

According to the final request for proposals [PDF], the department wants a "single Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contractor" that will deliver cloud hosting across the DoI.

The department, among other things, looks after National Parks. It is supposed to protect the US's natural resources and manage them as commercial entities (it employs park rangers at the Grand Canyon for example).

Under Cloud Hosting Service III, it wants a single Virtual Private Center for cloud services to support its cloud and managed service requirements.

Change of focus

Under previous Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the department controversially opened some of those federal lands to oil, gas and coal prospectors.

Just two months ago, a federal judge put a stop to coal leases on public lands, with the Obama-era moratorium reinstated under current Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a member of the Native American Pueblo people who has advocated for investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help clean up legacy pollution.

Now the department is looking for a single vendor for a "green IT" solution, saying the main drivers of the effort are a push towards cloud migration and datacenter consolidation, with the notice saying it hoped to "reduce the IT footprint for agencies," consolidate "traditional DCs" (implying it plans to cut a few), and save on hardware. It also claimed the contractor would help terh Department improve its "overall IT security posture" and shift IT investments to more "efficient" computing platforms and technologies.

The winning bidder will need to meet Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) security requirements, so likely will be one of the larger cloud service providers (CSPs), so what it can actually do for carbon offsets will vary – though theoretically there would be environmental economies of scale.

The security aspect will be worthwhile – according to a 2020 pen-testing report from the department's inspector general, among other failings, the DoI internal wireless network could be broken into over the air using a smartphone and under $200 worth of electronics stuffed into a backpack.

Previously, the DoI contracted its cloud under a multi-vendor contract, with previous tussles over services to the department including a knockdown fight between Microsoft and Google when the department found the latter's apps were not sufficiently "secure."

In 2013, the DoI spent $10 billion on its Foundation Cloud Hosting Services, contracted out to 10 vendors including Verizon.

The current $1 billion project is dwarfed by the Department of Defense's Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability mega-deal, the JEDI replacement that handed up to $9 billion to AWS – but whoever scores this one, at least, will not have to divide the spoils. ®

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