Contract Spending Analysis: FAA Cloud Services
Published: December 19, 2018
FAA proves the viability of cloud as a solution for critical agency missions.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s award of a major cloud services contract to CSRA (now part of GD IT) back in August 2015 heralded the beginning of a new era in the use of cloud computing for mission critical purposes at the U.S. Department of Transportation. At the time, the FAA was just beginning to examine how cloud services could be used for National Airspace Systems and Next Generation Air Transportation Systems. Three years on, the types of requirements being met by CSRA provide insight into how the FAA is using cloud for its airspace programs.
Spending on the FAA Cloud Services (FCS) Contract
Before looking at some of the specific requirements being met, here is an overview of the spending that’s passed through the FCS contract. So far the FAA has spent just shy of $40M against the $108M ceiling. Work has also just entered its fifth year with five additional years remaining on the period of performance.
Top Requirements by Spending
The following table shows requirements valued at approximately $1M or more that have been funded through the FCS contract. Most of these initiatives align nicely with two of the FAA’s strategic objectives announced in Fiscal 2018. First, to enable risk-based decision making by using consistent, data-informed approaches for safety programs and, second, to lay the foundation for the National Airspace System (NAS) of the future by integrating unmanned aircraft and introducing NAS Efficient Streamlined Services. Descriptions of five of these programs are below. FCS Program Management has been left out because the nature of the work is self-evident.
Unmanned Aerial Systems Registration: UAS Registration is a cloud-based database and portal for private sector drone users to register their vehicles with the FAA. Ultimately, it is related to the FAA UAS Data Exchange, a collaboration “between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data” to improve safety and the efficiency of operations.
Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Contract Services: EIM is where big data and cloud intersect at the FAA. As an FAA presentation defines the EIM, it is “a cloud-based system that provides a platform of reusable data and information management services and big data processing capabilities for broad cross-agency use. The platform leverages the FCS core Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to deliver Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) capabilities, processes, products, and tools.”
Mission Support Domains and Co-Location Hosting: These three requirements represent construction of the FAA’s cloud-based shared services model for its NAS and NextGen mission support functions. However, whereas the FAA originally outlined a hybrid model for hosting its mission domains in the FCS Contract Program of Objectives the requirement description shows that FAA is instead leveraging a contractor-owned and operated government community cloud.
System Wide Information Management (SWIM) Cloud Distribution Services: FAA’s SWIM system aggregates multiple sources of aviation data and shares it through a single access point with approved data users. SWIM increases common situational awareness and helps deliver information to systems and people for improved safety and efficiency. In short, the FCS program is being used as a cloud-based data-hub for distributing NAS and NextGen data.
Summing up, the FAA’s FCS contract is demonstrating the viability of an agency using cloud services for complex mission requirements, a direction in which all federal agencies anticipate moving.