Business: NHTSA was called on to lead the CARS program at the implementation level. Given the sheer size and scope – and just a 30 day timeline – everyone who could be spared within the DOT was pulled onto the project. That meant leveraging as many existing resources and services as possible, as well as working closely with DOT partners, systems and networks to make this mandate happen.
Challenge: Cloud computing was one obvious way to realize the kind of scale and speed that was required. However, at the time, cloud computing seemed to offer more problems than it solved, presenting security challenges that appeared to be incompatible with the government’s certification and accreditation process. To allow for efficient schedule execution, NHTSA broke the project into multiple stages, forging ahead with the cloud computing effort while planning to tackle the process to handle destruction and re-cycling of trade-ins post launch.
Solution: On July 27, dealers across all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam logged into the CARS application over the internet via a local point of presence and entered the details for each clunker to be traded in. Akamai, one of the world’s largest Web-based, content distribution providers established multiple points of presence for the Oracle on Demand-based CARS application, providing failover and enhancing performance. Public data releases are processed centrally in an Oracle database routed through the Terremark cloud, which could scale up on demand to handle the workload.
Result: With three billion dollars rebated in just over three weeks, and nearly 680,000 clunkers traded in for more fuel-efficient vehicles, CARS is considered one of the biggest successes of the Obama administration. Taking place as it did during the middle of the 2009 recession, CARS had a large impact on the economic recovery by saving or creating tens of thousands of jobs, as well as by increasing GDP by an estimated $3.8 to $6.8 billion. Going forward, the program will also result in a reduction of fuel consumption (~33M gallons annually) and CO2 emissions (~360K metric tons annually) over the lifetime of the newly purchased vehicles.