Today’s world is propelled forward by innovation, data, and experience. It’s no different for government agencies that must house and analyze large amounts of data, innovate to deliver on the mission, and deliver a seamless experience to constituents. However, many agencies are struggling to meet these objectives due to restrictive budgets, talent gaps, and minimal IT resources.
FedRamp, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, is working to tackle these obstacles by providing agencies with a risk management framework for cloud services that takes a step towards innovation. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for example, is leveraging FedRamp to deliver services and better experiences to the farmers and ranchers the agency works with – delivering on the overall mission of connecting clients more easily with resources and to drive collaboration between the agency and its stakeholders.
“The most important thing to keep in mind about this journey is that it’s not about us, not about data center closures, not about the cloud—it’s about speed to mission,” said Chad Sheridan, IT director of the USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) division during an interview with Government Matters. “My fear is when we talk about IT, we are overly focused on the IT part and not the mission. If we keep talking about IT, we stay in the death spiral of infrastructure that we have been in for years and years. Until we focus on our customers, we will never be a trusted partner. We will never be driving mission value.”
Through cloud best practices, the USDA is becoming more effective for its constituents and improving the process and delivery of service the agency provides while reducing costs. From conservation programs and lending to crop insurance and disaster relief, cloud is enabling the USDA to access and share citizen information faster – improving collaboration between employees and better meeting client needs.
Using Salesforce and cloud technology, the USDA launched “Bridges to Opportunity” in 2017 through its Farm Service Agency (FSA) that provides farmers with information on non-USDA programs. This information is available to the thousands of employees across the USDA’s agencies and provides access to farmers and ranchers that wasn’t possible before.
Using FedRamp, this program allowed the USDA to build on the “multi-generational level of trust” that it’s fostered since its inception in 1862, said Sheridan. FedRamp has removed barriers to that trust allowing citizens to go “from idea to value in the shortest amount of time possible.”