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Achieving ADA Compliance in the Cloud

2 min read

Last updated on January 31st, 2023 at 3:51pm

After the Civil War, Congress created the Antideficiency Act (ADA) to rein in ballooning government debt and solidify its role in controlling the spend of taxpayer dollars. The ADA limits the Executive Branch to spending only what Congress authorized for a fiscal year.

Nearly two centuries later, the ADA is a major consideration as federal Government organizations plan their migration to the public cloud because:

  • The ADA prohibits obligating or spending money before it’s received from Congress and prohibits taking money given for one purpose and using it for another.
  • Violations of the ADA fall into three categories: Purpose (what contracts/ programs an agency may fund as defined in appropriations), Time (how long money is available to fund the contract/program), and Amount (how much an agency can spend on a contract/program).1
  • The ADA is unique among fiscal statutes in U.S. law because federal employees can be held personally responsible for spending money not approved by Congress and face potential criminal penalties and administrative sanctions for violations.

How a 19th Century Law Impacts Your Cloud Usage

Here’s how an act that was created to control the purchase of muskets and swords impacts a Government agency’s migration to the cloud.

Think of cloud usage and billing like your home electricity: available on-demand and billed based on consumption. Now, imagine that access to the electricity in your home is available to everyone in your neighborhood. Your doors are wide open for people to enter your house and turn on lights, air conditioning, appliances, etc.

To maintain some control, you need to manage their access to your house, limit their access to only approved appliances, and monitor the electric meter to ensure they don’t exceed the household budget you’ve established. If you exceed your budget – or use an underfunded account to pay a bill — you could face a fine or imprisonment.

Rapid creation and use of cloud accounts without business alignment, proper configuration, and enforcement puts agencies and personnel at risk of violating the ADA.

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