GSA Leading the Way for Gov’t Cloud

The General Services Administration was established in the late 1940’s in efforts to help support the government. You can think of the GSA as the supply chain solution provider of the US Government. While other government agencies have lagged behind in cloud innovation and implementation, the GSA has led the way. Acting CIO Sonny Hashmi knew that in order to get the full benefits of the cloud, the GSA had to change the way it does business.

The GSA owns or leases 9,600 buildings all across America and these buildings house over 1 million federal contractors and employees. Given the GSA’s commitment to supply the federal government’s procurement requirements, GSA employees aren’t really the type to sit down in cubicles and talk on the phone all day. GSA employees are out in the field, visiting vendors and working on specialized projects.  It didn’t really make sense for GSA employees to have permanent desks. Instead, the employees have mobile workspaces that they can use as needed, much like the cloud innovation used by the employees themselves.

For the GSA, the cloud is more than just technology; the cloud has redefined how the agency does business. In 2011, the GSA adopted Google Apps and this transition is expected to save $15 million over 5 years. The GSA also worked hand-in-hand with in order to develop applications that can be used to streamline GSA processes. The GSA estimates that SalesForce has helped the organization collaborate better and the cumulative savings have been estimated at $5 million.

The cloud has also helped out with the GSA’s call center migration project. The agency believes that the cloud saved over $1.5 million in migration costs. In an interview with InformationWeek, CIO Sonny Hashmi was quoted as saying, “It’s easy to find reasons not to go down this road. You can’t perfectly plan your way through a disruptive path like this. You have to trust you have the right people in the room and be open to failing fast and adjusting. We were fortunate to have that freedom.”

Other government agencies have not had the same level as success in moving to the cloud. The GSA has provided a framework for other agencies to migrate. The GSA has also written open source applications that are available for use by local and state government’s cloud migration endeavors.