Knowledge management in the cloud exists in government right now

Quoting speakers at the recent Knowledge Management Conference, an article at says that…

“The combination of knowledge management and a cloud computing environment is the likely catalyst for open government”


“the questions are: Who owns information in the cloud and what is the business model for leveraging intellectual property in the cloud, Neilson said.

Regarding standards, the issue is: Who sets the standards? Is it the vendors, government or international standard bodies? If it is just the larger firms — domestically or internationally – will that hamper innovations from smaller firms?

On governance, the question is: Who makes the rules?”

While the discussion tends toward the question of international interoperability of cloud-based knowledge management (KM) platforms, the questions it poses are familiar to anyone who has stood up a KM system in government. Who owns the knowledge? What standards are we using? Should we inherit best practices from vendors or forge our own? Who governs the system?

Fortunately, there are well-established answers to these questions, implemented in existing cloud-based KM systems in government. The largest such system is the MAX Federal Community, which is now used by over 30,000 government workers across the Federal government. [Disclosure: TCG supports the MAX Federal Community.]

The answers to the questions posed at the KM Conference are:

  • Knowledge is owned by their creators and participants. OMB, which manages the MAX Federal Community on behalf of the Budget Formulation and Execution Line of Business (BFELoB) PMO, owns only the knowledge that OMB staff has created for OMB. The propriety of agency knowledge is upheld.
  • The standards are open. While there are some proprietary pieces to the technology stack, the standards by which knowledge is stored and managed are open and cross-platform.
  • The system is governed by a cross-agency PMO, via the BFELoB.

This approach ensures that there are low barriers to entry and access. Knowledge can flow freely and securely around the system, within and between agencies and inter-agency groups.

So it’s clear that at least one strong, established model for the governance of cloud-based KM systems exists.