Federal cloud experts from the Department of Justice (DoJ) said this week that while government policy mandates for zero trust migration and cloud adoption are key to advancing IT modernization and security, they should also be paired with funding in order to help agencies get the job done.

At the ATARC Federal Cloud and Infrastructure Summit on Oct. 20, Michael Cassidy, chief technology officer for the U.S. Trustees Program at DoJ, said that policy mandates can be helpful to serve as benchmarks for agencies.

“I think policy actually is good, it puts the benchmark out there for you to push to,” Cassidy said. “The key is… continual learning –  what’s coming out, and always reading about it, sharing with the team, and talking about what does that mean for us?”

“I think it’s good,” he continued. Speaking of log retention requirements, he said, “I think the enterprise logging one is especially good because I don’t think a lot of agencies were logging everything and they weren’t definitely consolidating and looking at a lot of things. So, I do think it’s positive, and it pushes you.”

But while Federal policy mandates can be positive, Heather Kowalski, chief information officer for the U.S. National Central Bureau of INTERPOL within the DoJ, argued that they also come with challenges.

One major challenge, Kowalski said, is when agencies do not have enough funding in order to carry out the requirements set out executive orders (EO) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memos.

“When they come without funding and we’re expected to deliver, now you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul to go ahead with whatever the flavor of the month is,” she explained. “And the second part of it is if we’re focused on the newest issue, have we actually finished the last one?”

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Both Kowalski and Cassidy represent the DoJ, which Kowalski explained is a huge organization. However, she said the larger components of the agency – such as the FBI and others – make up about 80 to 90 percent of the DoJ.

“That means 35 components are kind of in the noise on the side. We don’t have the budgets, we don’t have the attention,” she said. “So, have I gotten to the point where I can actually achieve what these EOs, these policies, want me to do? Or am I so far behind and now I’m even further behind? There is a challenge to it.”

Kowalski noted that while “there’s too much uncertainty in budgeting,” her goal is to focus on making the most out of her workforce and “to have the right people going to training.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.