Three years after the Obama administration set out its Cloud First policy for federal agencies and departments, those organizations are still struggling to meet the policy's mandates. According to an Accenture Federal Services research report, agencies are facing both staffing and procurement challenges, which makes it difficult for them to truly take advantage of the cloud.

Accenture, via Government Business Council (GBC), surveyed 286 federal executives for its newly released "The Road Ahead: 3 Years After Cloud First" report. The report found that federal agencies are struggling to hire the talent they need, but the lengthy procurement process is also slowing down the adoption of cloud computing.

Respondents noted that cost savings and budget reductions are the primary drivers behind cloud adoption strategies, but they're still struggling to development and implement those strategies, mainly because of staffing issues (cited by 69 percent) and the procurement process (31 percent).

"While there are initial challenges in the adoption of cloud computing, it holds the potential to play a major role in increasing government efficiency and service delivery," said Annette Rippert, managing director of technology solutions, in a prepared statement. Ripper also leads Accenture's federal cloud work. "When properly executed, government agencies have much to gain in transitioning to the cloud."

Numbers from the General Accountability Office (GAO) speak for themselves. Of 20 cloud migration plans submitted to the GAO in 2012, only one was complete. This speaks to the procurement process, which requires agencies to evaluate cloud options before making new IT investments. According to Accenture, only one in 10 U.S. federal agencies have migrated more than half of their IT to the cloud.

Currently, only 30 percent of respondents are implementing cloud strategies. Not exactly a stellar number after three years of Cloud First. It doesn't seem like cloud is first in general within the federal government. Additionally, 58 percent of respondents said they were not aware of any cloud strategy underway at their agencies.

It seems like a great opportunity for the channel—if only they could cut through government red tape.