Looking to save money, Recovery.gov enlists Amazon.com to host its website
In a first-of-its-kind deal, the government will host the Recovery.gov website on a commercial network it doesn't maintain.
Through Amazon.com's EC2, the site will no longer be hosted on servers operated by government workers. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board estimates the change could save $750,000 in the short term and more in the future.
"Consider this: We are a small outfit with four dozen employees so imagine if other, much larger federal agencies were to follow our lead -- the savings would be magnified many times over," wrote board Chairman Earl Devaney in a statement.
Kinda funny that Washington is only now expressing concerns about the expenses for the money-tracking site introduced by Joe Biden. The General Services Administration announced last July it was spending $18 million to redesign the site.
The concept of having a large corporation host a smaller entity's (or a large government's) Web pages is called "cloud computing" among the technology crowd. This is the first .gov website to "move to the cloud." Reactions to this program are already starting along the same thunderous lines as most cloud computing announcements -- security concerns.
"We do not need the level of security necessary to protect highly confidential or classified information," Devaney wrote. "None of our data is confidential. The whole idea is to display the data in a user-friendly and transparent way."
Regardless, the Recovery board maintains that security will actually increase because the government's same online safeguards will be layered on top of Amazon.com's protection software. Meanwhile, server maintenance is on the shoulders of the Seattle company rather than Washington. Amazon.com's stock was down slightly at the end of the day Thursday.
[Corrected, May 14, 3:36 p.m. An earlier version of this post said that Recovery.gov is managed by the White House. It is managed by the Recovery Board, independent from the White House. Also, the website has been touted by Vice President Joe Biden but is not run by Biden.]
-- Mark Milian
Photo credit: Associated Press