A Reduction In Resources Can Mean Outsourcing for Federal Agencies

Last week, I shared an article, Federal IT Faces Budget Pressure, with Goddard’s IT leadership team. This article predicts that federalagencies will have to move towards vendor-managed cloud computing solutionswithin the next 5 years to accommodate future budget cuts.   Werecently received guidance that 10% cuts would be made to all federal ITbudgets within the next fiscal year, so the author’s prediction of this cost-savinginitiative comes as no surprise.   Duringthe discussion, I advised our team that outsourcing initiatives have become aharsh reality for the way in which we do business today, and we need tocontinue to be proactive and adapt.  

An increased reliance on vendors for the management andmaintenance of some of our services is not against the norm for Goddard SpaceFlight Center or NASA.  For example, ifwe examine the amazing work underway at our Wallops Flight Facility and theprivate-public partnership that has been established with Orbital Corporation,it is a visible example our future business model.  Orbital’s Commercial Orbital TransportationServices (COTS) operational system consists of an International Space Station(ISS) visiting vehicle, a new privately-developed medium-class launch vehicle,and all necessary mission planning and operations facilities and services.

Orbital is developing and qualifying a new launch vehicle(called Antares) to enable lower-cost COTS launches as well as future NASAscience and exploration, commercial and national security space missions.Antares will combine Orbital’s industry-leading experience in developing,building and operating small launch vehicles with Wallops Flight Facilities’industry leading range operations to provide services in a more cost-effectivefashion.

Our IT programs, organizations, and scientific missions willneed to use this same strategic approach with Goddard’s infrastructurecapabilities- namely, containerized computing- considering our fiscal constraints.  Containerized computing offers a fee-for-servicemodel that can be monitored, measured, and tailored to scientific demands thatwe have at each Center.  A reduction in our IT funding will inevitablydecrease our ability to procure appropriate resources for cloud/containerizedcomputing services; therefore, outsourcing will potentially be both a short andlong-term solution.   Short-term we wouldbe able to “do more with less”, and long-term, we would be able to facilitatepartnerships to ensure and sustain security compliance, infrastructurecompatibility, etc.

Overall, vendor-managed cloud computing will allow us to re-prioritizeand reallocate those existing resources that we do have into other IT service areas.   We will then be able to focus our talents onimproving operating inefficiencies and innovation across the Center.  It may be a shift in the way that the federalgovernment has done business previously, but for NASA, it’s business as usual.