Army’s cloud office is ‘functionally operational’ but missing some personnel due to pandemic

Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army's chief information officer, speaks during the U.S. Army Reserve Chief Information Officer/Signal Workshop in the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve on Fort Belvoir, Virginia in May 2019. (U.S. Army Reserve / Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez)

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The Army’s recently established Enterprise Cloud Management Office says it is up and running even though the service has been unable to finish assigning some personnel to their new positions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The office says it is “functionally operational” despite the temporary holes in its workforce and is moving ahead even faster on its IT modernization work. The ECMO was initially established in November and was scheduled to become fully operational in March, a timeline made before the pandemic arrived.

The office’s priorities now include supporting Army telework with cloud capabilities and keeping its previous work — such as improving data practices — on track.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded that we adapt how we operate, but it has not adjusted our FY20 plans, and if anything it has accelerated them,” Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s CIO, and Paul Puckett, the ECMO’s inaugural leader, said in a joint statement emailed to FedScoop.

Fiscal 2020 is the “foundational” year for cloud and data modernization in the Army, both senior IT officials have previously said. The ECMO’s previous main focus was on building solid foundations of data management and cloud migration — not building a “house on sand,” as Puckett put it in February.

“As we have adjusted to the new normal of increased telework and digital collaboration, our focus has been on accelerating our adoption and optimization of cloud computing and modern technology,” Crawford and Puckett said.

The entire Department of Defense has adopted a Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) Environment of Microsoft Office to meet the immediate demands of teleworking. The CVR is the result of a CIO Telework Readiness Task Force created in response to the pandemic. And some of the IT infrastructure upgrades made by the DOD to accommodate teleworking are here to stay, Deasy said April 13.

The push to virtual environments includes the Army. Puckett and other officials previously had said that the biggest challenge in IT modernization is culture, but the needs of teleworking have shown many agencies the importance of cloud technology. Private sector contractors are also playing a key role in the shift. Despite some disruptions to supply chains, the Army and other branches of the military say the relationship with industry remains strong.

“During this challenging period in our nation’s history, we have received tremendous support from industry who have stepped up to assist the Army in continuing to fulfill our mission,” Crawford and Puckett said.

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Army, Bruce Crawford, Cloud, Dana Deasy, Department of Defense (DOD), IT Modernization, Paul Puckett, telework
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