AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Federal departments and agencies share how the cloud helps advance their missions

From veteran services to aerospace research, federal agencies have leveraged the cloud to advance their missions. With benefits from the cloud, such as cost savings, data redundancy, and opportunities to adopt emerging technology, federal customers can better serve and protect their constituents.

Three federal agencies recently shared how they improved efficiency through information technology (IT) modernization to ultimately better serve citizens.

Improving how agencies interact with constituents

Nitin Naik, Chief Technology Officer at the United States Census Bureau, explained how Amazon Web Services (AWS) has helped the U.S. Census Bureau uses break down data silos and reduce respondent fatigue. By synthesizing data from multiple sources, the number of phone calls and surveys that businesses and individuals must complete is reduced, which can improve the relationship between Census and its constituents.

Naik says, “One of the key metrics we are trying to address is how we can reduce respondent burden. We are trying to link the data [from different sources] so that we can ask fewer questions or approach the respondent fewer times. For many of our surveys, the data volume runs into terabytes of data because we are monitoring businesses and the population of citizens. We are trying to verify that we have the right records. Now that we have a platform and infrastructure that can handle large amounts of data, we can reduce the number of times we have to reach out.”

Likewise, David Catanoso, Director of Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) explained how the VA built cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tools to improve communication with constituents. With these changes, the VA can offer veterans more individualized support at scale.

“We’re approaching 3.5 petabytes already into AWS…We’re trying things like using artificial intelligence (AI) for chatbots on our IT service desk, and we’re considering using things like machine learning (ML) to help with medical diagnosis by interpreting images,” Catanoso said.

Enhancing internal applications

The VA also uses the cloud to gain insight into application performance and to protect data through replication for backup and recovery in the case of unforeseen failures.

“We use Amazon reporting to help track applications usage and cost data for our shared services. Now we’ve also deployed the VA Active Directory as a service into the AWS GovCloud (US). The VA Active Directory infrastructure is probably one of the largest of its kind and by replicating it in the cloud, it not only provided a major redundancy for the Active Directory, but it also makes the performance of our applications running on AWS much better,” Catanoso said. The cloud has helped the VA innovate on behalf of its stakeholders and improve cost-efficiency for these applications. Catanoso adds, “Beyond that, we’re building an enterprise cloud to provide a common landing area, making it easier to migrate applications, achieve cost savings, and unleash innovation.”

Aiding research collaboration to decrease time to discovery

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) leveraged AWS for mission advancement through research collaboration. The administration uses AWS to process, store, and analyze large amounts of data it collects.

“I think everybody could imagine the need for science users and the need for NASA scientists to collaborate with external partners. There’s a lot of value with containers, big data processing, visualization, and a lot of the external partner collaboration with our conglomerate researchers across the world,” said Joseph Foster, Cloud Computing Program Manager at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Watch the full AWS Public Sector Summit session videos for more information on these projects led by NASA, the VA, and the US Census Bureau.