White House mulls making NASA a center for federal cloud computing, Nextgov
"One of those sites could be NASA. Officials at the space agency and the Office of Management and Budget have "broached the idea of NASA becoming an IT service provider," said Mike Hecker, NASA's associate chief information officer for architecture and infrastructure. But, "NASA as an IT service provider takes us into a new realm. We're still debating if that's a good idea or not." ... Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, Obama's top technology executive, is examining many alternatives for innovation in the cloud, including using Nebula as a centralized platform to service multiple agencies, OMB officials said. Chris Kemp, CIO at NASA's Ames Research Center, who is spearheading the program, is working with the federal government's cloud working group, officials added. NASA has not committed to developing Nebula into a government wide cloud platform, Hecker emphasized. The agency's mission is to explore space and science for the benefit of the public, with IT serving as a tool to fulfill that mission, officials stressed."
Keith's note: It is all well and good that NASA is "debating if that's a good idea or not" and questions whether IT is just a "tool" but it is the White House (OMB, OSTP, etc.) who will ultimately call the shots on this. If White House decides that NASA offers some unique capabilities that other agencies can use, is NASA going to say "no"? If it tried to say "no" that would be rather odd given all of the time that NASA spends promoting spinoffs and their value to the economy. Most of the spinoffs NASA likes to wave around are things that are not even remotely connected to "exploring space and science" (smoke alarms, truck design, pacemakers, olympic swimming suits, etc.).
If NASA is going to promote itself as being relevant to the taxpaying public then it needs to be willing to entertain any and all ways that it is relevant, not try to hand pick the ones it does and does not want.