The U.S. Congressional High Tech Caucus today announced it is launching a new task force to focus congressional attention on cloud computing issues.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), speaking on behalf of the High Tech Caucus at a congressional briefing, said the task force was being formed “to focus on cloud computing policies, initiatives and to work with stakeholders in the future.”

“It is an important way to inform members of Congress about cloud computing,” she said. “We know that cloud computing can play an essential role in our economy.”

Lending support for raising awareness about cloud computing was Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who agreed most members of Congress have only a vague understanding of what cloud computing is and its economic potential.

“We’re hoping …to move members from a dim awareness of what cloud computing is to (an understanding) of what its benefits are,” he said.

“Congress is looking at ways to cut costs and spur innovation,” he said. “Cloud computing offers a huge opportunity” to do both, he said. “We must be able to develop (a framework) that encourages cloud computing to advance,” he said.

Coons, a freshman senator known for studying issues in depth, praised a recently-released report entitled “Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation, Leadership and Job Creation.” The report, published by the Tech America Foundation, developed 14 specific recommendations to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in government, assembled through a commission of experts representing 71 companies and organizations. The commission played a role in organizing the clould computing briefing.

“One challenge I’m concerned about,” said Coons, is that “when the Senate legislates on something as important as something like cybersecurity,” it tends to takes place every ten years. He said it was embarrassing to read some of the language in drafts of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Electronic regarding the storage of email, which seems to ignore many of the recent technology developments impacting the private sector and the nation as a whole.

He also expressed concern that “It is easier today to steal an idea than to invent it. We need to find ways to put in protections for the private sector…and it’s my hope that we’re building a technological infrastructure to support this,” Coons said.

A half dozen industry representatives who served on the Commission on the Leadership in the U.S. Deployment of the Cloud, which produced the recommendations report, also voiced key concerns that Congress needs to address.

Dan Reed, corporate vice president, technology policy and strategy, Microsoft, and a co-chair of the commission, emphasized three over arching issues:

One is the transnational flow of data and the need to coordinate privacy and commerce regulations with other nations.

Another is the need for continuing investments in wired and wireless networks that have become the backbone of remote computing via the Internet.

And a third is the continuing need for preserving the nation’s long history of research and development, and the importance of investing in new ideas and the education system to support them.

“Knowledge workers are an infinitely renewable resource in the information age,” Reed said.

Michael Capellas, Chairman, VCE, also co-chair of the commission said, “The predictions about cloud are all wrong. It will be implemented much faster than expected.”

Dan Burton, senior vice president, global public sector,, said that the federal government’s “Cloud First” policy, initiated by former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, represented a huge policy signal other governments and markets around the world.

“Cloud computing is important not just as a market phenomenon, but because it will fundamentally change every other technology policy, from privacy, to data breaches, to security,” he said.