Sustainability and Cybersecurity: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Every morning when I scan the headlines, I see the buzzwords sustainability and cybersecurity in government, IT, and acquisitions articles.

Journalists and industry pundits write about one or the other topic. Conferences schedule numerous panels and workshops. Even the administration has released specific mandates, including the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and Executive Order (EO) 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. It’s easy to see why these two complex topics are often discussed independently. They sometimes appear to be mutually exclusive: you can either be sustainable or secure, but you can’t be both.

Despite this, I don’t think we’re at a crossroads. If we’re going to effectively face our energy and security threats—as well as the goal of “cheaper, faster, greener”—we need to talk about the two topics together and blaze a new trail.

Heads or tails, we both win

Sustainability and cybersecurity are two sides of the same coin. But it’s not a coin toss—each depends on the other.

We are learning that sustainability and cybersecurity must go hand in hand. As agencies move forward on Open Government initiatives, we see previously restricted data sets posted in more public fora, and, by virtue of their very openness, exposed to more security threats. Innovative Green IT solutions such as smart grids, data center consolidations, and cloud computing—though more open, accessible and energy-efficient—require new or increased security measures.

Given the resources GSA and other agencies devote to developing contract vehicles allowing agencies to procure these solutions, it makes sense that acquisition officers integrate security and sustainability requirements at the beginning. Rather than treat one or the other, or both, as add-ons, cybersecurity and sustainability should be in all contracts.

Smarter buying at your fingertips

GSA is at the forefront of these issues. We’re a strategic partner of the administration in its sustainability initiatives. Also, we’ve pushed government technology providers to adopt security measures.

Two offerings—SmartBUY and MTIPS—help agencies meet administration mandates and successfully integrate sustainability and cybersecurity requirements.

This is only a start, but it’s the first step that makes all the difference. As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Let’s continue the discussion. Post a comment below or come see me on the Cloud Computing panel at FedScoop’s 2nd Annual Lowering the Cost of Government Summit, August 19th in Washington, DC.

About Ed O’Hare