The U.S. Navy Publishes a New Cloud Computing Policy

Published: January 13, 2021

Federal Market AnalysisCloud ComputingInformation TechnologyNAVYPolicy and Legislation

New guidance firmly sets Navy on a cloud first path.

Key Takeaways

  • With new guidance, the Navy goes cloud first.
  • Navy’s new policy identifies the new Naval Digital Marketplace as the central portal for cloud acquisition.
  • Navy will be inventorying its current cloud contracts and capabilities for compliance with the new policy.
  • Navy’s new policy makes it mandatory for mission-owners to consider DOD enterprise cloud contracts first.

A little more than one month ago, Aaron Weis, the Chief Information Officer for the U.S. Navy, published a short document detailing the Service’s policy toward cloud computing. While not a formal cloud strategy, which the Navy has yet to produce, the new policy outlines both the importance of cloud computing to the Navy and acquisition policy it intends to follow in years to come. Government officials have often cited the difficulty of buying cloud services through standard procurement avenues as a roadblock to adoption. The Navy’s CIO intends with this new policy document to remove those challenges and make buying cloud services easier.

After confirming that “cloud computing is the primary approach to transforming how the Navy delivers, protects, and manages access to data and applications across all mission areas,” the memo requires that “All new software and software development shall leverage the inherent characteristics of cloud computing services, shall maximize use of enterprise cloud services, and shall support continuous integration/continuous delivery to the maximum extent possible that both mission requirements and technical capabilities allow.”

This statement follows the trend toward leveraging cloud-based development operations emerging across the Department of Defense. The Air Force, for instance, has already established Platform One, it’s cloud development environment, and the Army has announced its intent to use that environment.

CIO Weis’s memo then turns to the all-important issue of cloud acquisition, which will proceed as follows. The Program Executive Office (PEO) Digital will manage a Naval Digital Marketplace at that acts as a kind of one-stop shop for Navy and Marine Corps customers seeking a specific cloud service or capability. The new marketplace will provide access “to all DOD approved cloud contracts which may include, but are not limited to, commercial, Federal, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Air Force, and Army cloud contracts, in addition to existing Navy and Marine Corps cloud contracts.” DOD enterprise cloud services are to be leveraged first, but if a given capability is required that those enterprise services do not include then Navy mission owners can procure “Fit-for-Purpose Clouds (FPCs) … on a case-by-case basis based on a formal assessment and approval process managed by DON CIO.”

By roughly 8 March, Navy commands are required to inventory the systems they have which use “cloud computing services that do not leverage existing contracts in the Defense Enterprise Cloud Environment or DON’s Naval Digital Marketplace.” Those inventories will “be submitted to PEO Digital … for review and validation … in order to limit duplication, maximize enterprise purchasing efficiencies, and accelerate digital modernization efforts.”

Also starting at roughly the beginning of March, states the memo, “all new cloud services shall not be procured as part of, or embedded in, a larger systems integration or contractor support service contract unless the cloud services portion is in support of an existing DON CIO approved FPC.” This point is important because a significant amount of cloud-related work takes place under contracts that are not explicitly cloud-related. Navy cloud spending (shown below in blue) has accelerated tremendously over the last few years and Deltek believes that the totals shown below could represent only half of the Service’s spending on cloud due to requirements being fulfilled under IT services management, data center management, engineering, and other types of contracts that are not explicitly for cloud.

Blue columns = cloud spending; gray columns = total value of cloud contracts awarded that FY.

This new requirement could generate some realignment of spending on cloud services, if the work currently being done is not in compliance with the new guidance.

Lastly, interms of future plans, the Navy CIO designates PEO Digital as the Navy’s Cloud Service Management Organization, or Cloud SMO, “which shall serve as the single DON gateway for acquisition and delivery of cloud services.” The Deputy CIOs of the Navy and the Marine Corps will be developing “respective Service-level cloud implementation plan(s) or similar documents to address both common and Service-unique, mission requirements and internal business processes required to implement this policy memorandum.

Importantly, these CIOs “shall collaborate to ensure standardization across the DON to the maximum extent possible. The Cloud SMO and PEO Digital shall provide consultation to the Deputy CIOs to ensure alignment between the Service’s cloud requirements and the PEO Digital published cloud services acquisition and delivery plan.”

Summing up, cloud vendors doing business with the Navy may wish to contact PEO Digital to ensure it knows the contracts through which their services/capabilities are available, and to ensure that those contracts are compliant with the new DON CIO’s policy. Industry should also expect to see further guidance come out of the Navy and Marines concerning cloud implementation as both organizations continue down the path toward full adoption.