GSA moves Data.gov to the cloud

The General Services Administration is shifting the federal government's online data repository Data.gov to the cloud by awarding a series of contracts for remote dataset hosting and distribution.

The Obama administration has made a push to shift information technology systems to the cloud, where a vendor provides applications, hardware, support and service on demand. Thus far the administration's efforts have focused on public-facing websites such as Data.gov.

Currently the site links to datasets hosted on agency servers. But soon the data will be hosted by vendors, freeing up server space for agencies and speeding access for the public. GSA awarded data hosting contracts to Alamo City Engineering Services, CGI Federal, Eyak Technology, Qbase and Smartronix. The contracts can be used by any federal agency seeking similar services.

"Moving datasets to the cloud changes the landscape of how agencies share — and the public uses — their data," said Sanjeev Bhagowalia, deputy associate administrator for GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Data.gov itself has been the target of recent criticism from transparency watchdogs for the paucity of useful data feeds. Only one percent of the site's offerings are raw data; the watchdog group Sunlight Foundation contends the rest are useless for building anything aside from maps. The site is a pet project of federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.