The Defense Department (DoD) needs to do a better job at tracking and reporting cloud computing data transfer user fees, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report out this week.

In procuring and implementing cloud services, DoD has negotiated discounts on user fees related to transferring data from the cloud, but it has yet to come up with a way to track or report on data user fees department-wide, GAO said.

The watchdog agency explained that cloud service providers charge user fees for transferring data from the cloud. According to the report, cloud providers usually do not charge fees to transfer data into the cloud – data ingress. However, they charge a fee when transferring data from a storage location – data egress.

The DoD has begun considering data egress fees when procuring and implementing cloud services.

“The department’s recent contract negotiations with commercial providers resulted in discounts on data fees, including data egress fees. Vendor lock-in can happen in cloud computing when the cost of moving to a new provider is so high that a user stays with their incumbent provider,” the report states.

GAO acknowledged that egress fees are not a primary cause of vendor lock-in, and it cited a lack of specific skills by government staff, or the reliance on cloud services unique to a specific cloud provider, as other factors that contribute to lock-in.

Nonetheless, DoD does not have the capability to track and report on these fees and lacks insight into their impact. That situation, GAO said, will continue until DoD acquires and implements a tool to better track data user fees.

“The department does not have the capability to track and report on these fees. In addition, DoD’s contract-specific tools do not track cloud expenditures, including data egress fees department-wide,” the report states. GAO said DoD does not yet have a plan or time frame for adopting a tool that tracks data egress fees.

DoD concurred with GAO’s single recommendation in the report to develop a plan and time frame for adopting an egress fee tracking tool.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.