Is California forcing state agencies under one private cloud?

Golden Gate Bridge (Photo: Luke Fretwell)
Golden Gate Bridge (Photo: Luke Fretwell)

Update: A DGS representative notified us that these restrictions will be lifted “ballpark in the next few months” once the state has updated its cloud computing terms and conditions policy, which is currently under review.

The California Department of General Services is issuing a list of stipulations to cloud computing vendors that forces them into an agreement to not sell their services to state agencies, according to a document obtained by GovFresh.

The document, titled “Acceptance of Terms Related to Cloud Computing Solutions Under the CMAS [California Multiple Award Schedules] Program,” outlines four stipulations that, if not adhered to, “may result in contract termination.”

Those stipulations include:

  1. CMAS contractor guarantees that it will not sell cloud products or services to California State agencies through the CMAS program.
  2. CMAS contractor agrees not to process California State agencies’ CMAS purchase orders that include cloud computing software and/or vendor related services and to alert the CMAS Program administrators when such an order has been received.
  3. CMAS contractor agrees to refund in full any payments resulting from a sale of a cloud product or service to California State agencies under a CMAS contract whether or not cloud products or services are purchased willfully or inadvertently.
  4. Contractor’s non-compliance regarding the sale of cloud products or services may result in contract termination.

Attempts to obtain comments from DGS and the California Technology Agency remain unanswered.

California is currently developing its own private cloud, called CalCloud, that is expected to launch in early 2014.

“California is in the cloud,” California Chief Information Officer Carlos Ramos said Monday at a government technology and innovation event hosted by TechWire. “We’re moving into the cloud very rapidly, but we do have to move a little bit gingerly.”

Prior to Ramos’ talk at the same event, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom was critical of the state’s progress and unwillingness to pursue innovative approaches to technology, especially the cloud.

“By 2016, it’s estimated that the bulk of IT spending in business will be on cloud computing platforms and applications, according to the IDC Worldwide and Regional Public IT Cloud Services forecast,” wrote Newsom recently on Huffington Post. “Yet many in California government still resist cloud computing even as the federal government and states including Colorado adopt cloud-first priorities.”

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

6 Responses

  1. Is this a case of left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? The CA DGS better have some answers to why they would seek to usurp an open bidding process for cloud computing vendors.

  2. yoyoshida

    Luke, amazing article. This made my blood boil. I’m so grateful that this policy is under review and will be reversed.

  3. Mark Dixon

    Actually, while on the surface this issue may seem restrictive, is not necessarily a bad thing.

    It may seem as politics as usual in that the State does want agencies and departments to move the the CalCloud, the silver lining (pun intended) is that this DGS mandate will prevent a fragmentation of IT functions into multiple, numerous and miscellaneous vendor clouds…some great, some good, some not-so-good.

    Regardless of the cloud quality out there, as a citizen, I do not want to see my local government(s) or even state agencies blown apart in this fashion…because, if you know anything about IT, the data will have to move to the cloud as well, not just the SaaS or PaaS functionality. If you think we have challenges with data governance and duplication and redundancy now, then you should realize this scenario is a nightmare. The only ones that win here are the cloud vendors that want you on their cloud. The taxpayers lose and the citizens lose.

    Some open data activists and civic hackers who are addicted to data and more data might be happy for a while, but eventually even they will be overcome by the sheer magnitude of duplication and fragmentation. We won’t ever have enough volunteer hackers to overcome the issue.

    Better to architect this for regional community and cross-jurisdictional clouds in an open and transparent fashion. That is what my Smarter Local Government and Cognitive Digital Democracy concepts do…

    I will be speaking about this at UCLA Luskin Schoool of Public Affairs’ Digital Cities Conference in April2014.

  4. Luke Fretwell

    Thanks, Mark. Without jumping too deep into the discussion, it’s definitely good for IBM, and I’m sure you can appreciate that. :-)

  5. JR

    Luke have you ever done a follow-up article on this? Because its January 2016 now and the Cal Cloud has nothing to help improve the infrastructure of the state. In fact departments are being forced to bring over applications that make no feasibility sense to put on Cal Cloud. This purely politically motivated and is costing that state lots of wasted money furthermore the departments lost of heartache.


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