DoD’s cloud licensing issues could cost taxpayers billions

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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is failing to account for the costs associated with restrictive cloud licensing agreements, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This could lead to billions of dollars in overspending on cloud software.

The GAO found that the DoD has some plans in place to spot restrictive licensing, but no idea what to do about it. Among the cloud licensing restrictions that DoD officials noted to the GAO were limits on migration of software from on-premise to cloud environments, licenses that limit access to previous versions of software, third-party compatibility requirements, expensive building of software needed to meet government requirements and the like.

“Until DoD updates and implements guidance and plans for mitigating the impacts of restrictive software licensing practices, the selected investments [the GAO selected six DoD cloud projects for its study] will continue to implement inconsistent, ad hoc approaches that can be ineffective at identifying and mitigating the department’s risks,” the GAO concluded.

The GAO didn’t include any data about how much the DoD may have overspent on cloud software, but noted that the Department’s cloud budget has increased by more than 40 percent since fiscal year 2021, when it was $1.4 billion to FY ’23, when it’s risen to around $2 billion.

The DoD agreed with the GAO’s assessment and said it intends to publish updated guidance by the end of the next fiscal year. However, it is unclear whether such guidance would be adhered to.

This is just the latest in a series of reports that have found the DoD to be struggling with its IT management.

In June 2022, the GAO reported that the DoD had failed to kick off an effort to ensure it had the right personnel in place to ensure cloud success, and hadn’t prepared a timeline for other necessary changes. The GAO also found that the DoD had issues with the completeness of its cloud spending data, which increased the likelihood that cloud spending data was underreported.

The DoD has also been called out for mismanagement of government-issued smartphones and poor IT support.

The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.

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