As more government agencies at all levels move their data and operations to the cloud, it’s important to keep in mind that not all cloud networks are the same. For federal government agencies, Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud (US) technology provides the security and compliance they need to operate in a cloud environment.
For state and local agencies, there are benefits to using AWS GovCloud services as well. With state and local governments expected to invest more than $118 billion in IT in 2021, understanding those benefits can help local government leaders get the most value from their IT spend.
Like all cloud service providers, GovCloud offers customers on-demand computing access to its remote servers and networks so that they can store, analyze and share data at scale. That means AWS direct customers and agencies that subscribe to services built using GovCloud can expand their ability to handle, secure and process data without investing in new on-site hardware.
The AWS GovCloud difference
What sets AWS GovCloud apart from other AWS services is that its network complies with federal rules governing how and where sensitive data is stored and who can access the data and network. For example, United States data is stored only on network equipment in the U.S., and U.S. persons only access those systems.
AWS GovCloud also complies with:
- FedRAMP, the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program
- HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
- ITAR, U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations
- Department of Defense (DoD) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide Levels 2, 4 and 5
- NIST Special Publication 800-53, the security framework for the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
- NIST 800-171, the security framework for controlled unclassified information
- PCI-DSS, the global card payment security standard
- Many more federal security standards
Built-in compliance helps government organizations and agencies using GovCloud (US) vendors to easily make the digital transformation by reducing the scope of the compliance requirements those organizations have to meet. The combination of compliance and security is one reason, for example, that DHS moved its biometrics database to GovCloud in 2020 as “the first step in a major overhaul of the decades-old legacy system.”
Who uses PayIt and AWS GovCloud (US) solutions?
Agencies at all government levels are already using GovCloud technology to power their digital initiatives.
At the federal level, the Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security departments and NASA use it for operations ranging from patient data storage and information sharing to satellite management and cloud governance. Federal contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin also use GovCloud services to meet security requirements and accelerate service delivery for the agencies they serve.
At the state level, agencies using third-party services backed by GovCloud are streamlining service delivery. They offer more contactless options for services like driver’s license renewal and generate more online revenue by providing secure, easy to use digital payment options.
For example, Kansas leverages PayIt solutions using GovCloud to enable remote vehicle registration renewals via computer or smartphone. PayIt and the state developed and released the iKan app with registration renewal functionality in less than 60 days. The app reduced lines at DMV offices around the state, made renewal easier for vehicle owners and generated an extra $400,000 in revenue by allowing users to buy a state park pass when they renew their registration.
Kansas has since expanded the services they provide via iKan to include driver’s license renewals and requests for vital records—and the state has used PayIt and the security of GovCloud to launch cross-agency collaborations with two counties for property tax collection via the app.
“1 in 3 Kansans have an iKan account.”
County and city governments are making their budgets go further at the local level, improving the citizen experience and collecting more revenue with secure apps powered by GovCloud. For example, the City of St. Louis worked with PayIt to create a cost-effective app to collect and process revenue from taxes, utility bills and court payments.
How can agencies get started with PayIt and AWS GovCloud-backed solutions?
- Identify the initial database you want to migrate to the cloud and the first services you want to digitize.
- Review solution providers to see if they build their solution on GovCloud, what their previous implementations have accomplished for agencies, how scalable their solution is and what support services they provide before, during and after the project.
- Once you’ve chosen a provider, you’ll work with their integration experts to securely link your back-office systems of record to the cloud through their solution. You’ll also work with them to customize your new citizen-facing portal and apps, set up PCI compliant payment processing and test your new system.
- Work with the provider’s marketing team to help create a campaign to let your constituents know that a new digital option is on the way. During internal training and after launch, your provider’s customer support team should help your employees and residents get used to the new system.
- After launch, your CDR provider should automatically deploy security updates, software patches and functionality improvements without requiring any action from your IT department.
What kinds of solutions can be built on AWS GovCloud (US)?
In addition to hosting sensitive data for federal agencies, this service can also underpin community development and regulation (CDR) applications built by third-party vendors to help public sector organizations make the mainframe-to-cloud migration and provide better citizen experience management.
CDRs used to be primarily custom-built software applications that required in-house resources and software engineering talent to develop and implement. Now, a 2020 Gartner report projects that CDRs will increasingly be software as a service (SaaS) or platform-based by 2030. These off-the-shelf options are more cost-effective for small government organizations to implement and scale than bespoke CDRs.
The Gartner report also found that CDR solutions with a SaaS delivery model are increasingly popular with government organizations that want to move their data from legacy systems into the cloud, manage new regulations efficiently, or need analytics and mobile access capabilities.
Gartner identified several core business processes that government agencies can use CDRs to streamline for operational efficiency and better citizen service, including
- Licensing of drivers, business owners, certain occupations, pets and recreation (fishing and hunting)
- Motor vehicle registrations
- Health permits
- Regulatory compliance and enforcement
- Land management and development permits
- Code enforcement and plan reviews
Because these processes often involve citizens’ data and require online transactions, many government CIOs feel more comfortable as the solution they’ve chosen to modernize their data management and citizen service delivery complies with rigorous federal security standards and frameworks.
By choosing a CDR built on GovCloud, CIOs, IT managers and agency heads can reduce the scope of their organization’s general compliance requirements, especially regarding payment data security and personal data protection.
A streamlined, secure digital transformation with GovCloud-powered solutions
Customizable SaaS brings the digital transformation within reach for virtually every government agency. Working with an AWS Partner can:
- Save your organization time on implementation
- Reduce the risk of misconfiguration in your cloud network
- Provide ongoing experienced support
- Give you federal-quality security compliance to protect your agency’s data and reduce your in-house compliance burden
With your data stored and analyzed in the cloud, it’s easy to automate time-intensive tasks like payment reconciliation. It’s also simple to create reports that identify trends and opportunities to operate more efficiently. The cloud can make disaster recovery more accessible and faster to minimize disruption to the services your agency provides.
All of these benefits are available without the need for costly IT, cybersecurity, marketing and customer service investments by your department or agency, thanks to the power of cloud computing and the stringent security that AWS Government Cloud provides.
Ready to see how PayIt’s government technology software can help you save money, protect sensitive data and deliver a better citizen experience—at no cost to your government organization? Request your custom PayIt demo.