Amazon Web Services earns ATO for Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs building in D.C. (Christopher Neugebauer / Flickr)


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Amazon Web Services has been authorized to offer cloud service for sensitive information — including patient data — at the Department of Veterans Affairs, company officials said.

In a news release issued Friday, AWS said its GovCloud product received a high general support system authority to operate (ATO) under the Federal Information Security Management Act.

“VA’s decision to embrace cloud will have a positive, direct impact on our veterans, as IT costs are reduced while functionality increases,” said Doug VanDyke, AWS Worldwide Public Sector general manager of civilian government and nonprofits. “We look forward to continuing this critical effort with the VA.”

In the release, Amazon officials said that the transition to cloud could help save the VA money, increase its operational flexibility, and identity and resolve security issues more quickly on top of modernizing its digital services.

It could also provide faster software and product development, and decrease modernize service delivery, they added.

AWS’s GovCloud allows agencies to stay in compliance while storing sensitive data and regulated information.

Former VA CIO LaVerne Council spoke of the importance of moving to the secure cloud at last year’s AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. VA has used AWS to evolve how “products we delivered really changing experience not just create another application because we do not need another application,” Council said, all the while trimming the development cycle down from six months to three and reducing overhead costs by 80 percent.

“We have to really think about reinvention and adopting new processes. And our biggest new process and full adoption was really around piloting a change and how we were going to do our programs — how we get our programs done faster cheaper and better,” she said. “At the VA, we have to think about that experience, put ourselves into [veterans’ doctor] visits, think about the need to secure their data, to treat their data better than anybody has ever treated ours, to make sure that they know that we have their backs — we got there six.”

AWS also received a FISMA moderate general support system ATO for the U.S. east and west regions, the company announced.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS), ATO, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Federal Information Security Management Act, VA
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