Education wants to put financial management in the cloud

Thursday - 12/1/2011, 4:21pm EST

The Education Department wants to take its financial management system to the cloud.

Education issued a request for information Nov. 18 seeking ideas for infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service for the Education Department's Central Automated Processing System (EDCAPS).

"Much like other federal agencies, the department needs to continue providing effective information technology in support of the mission and work of the agency while facing the possibility of budget constraints and significantly fewer resources over the next few years," the RFI stated. "In anticipation of both an expected decrease in resources and the impending end of life for major elements of its existing EDCAPS infrastructure, the department is assessing its options to transform its current environment into one that is more cost-effective, sustainable and aligned with future business needs."

Education's system includes five different components:

  • Financial-management support software
  • Grants-management system
  • Contracts and purchasing support system
  • Travel-management system
  • Nortridge Loan system
"The EDCAPS systems are linked through custom interfaces to provide the department with real-time financial management capabilities that must be maintained regardless of where the systems reside," the RFI stated. "EDCAPS serves the entire Department of Education's approximately 4,200 internal users in various buildings located in Washington D.C., as well as 10 regional offices across the United States. EDCAPS also serves approximately 100,000 external users through [the grants system] . Because EDCAPS is a mission critical system, it must be available at least 99.99 percent of the time."

The system currently is run by Dell and runs hardware and software from IBM and Oracle.

There is not a separate listing on the IT Dashboard for EDCAPS. But there are listings for the financial management and contracts systems, which combined, cost the agency about $11.3 million in fiscal 2011. Education also is spending another $10.1 million on integrated support services to bring all of the systems together.

RFI responses are due Dec. 12.

A handful of agencies already have financial management systems in the cloud, with the Labor Department being one of the more recent ones.

The Office of Management and Budget also wants agencies to consider moving financial management and human resource systems to the cloud. Vivek Kundra, the former federal chief information officer, and current CIO Steven VanRoekel both have discussed the concept of moving agencies toward shared services over the last six months.

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