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Letter to the Editor

Sep. 16, 2012 - 03:18PM   |  
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GSA’s cloud commitment

Your Sept. 10 article “GSA lost in the cloud” left out important facts regarding the General Services Administration’s cloud services, which was misleading to readers.

At GSA, we are constantly searching for ways to help the entire government operate more effectively and more efficiently. Few tools have had the potential to impact the way that the government works as cloud computing. That is why cloud has been one of GSA’s top priorities.

At the end of 2010, the Office of Management and Budget asked GSA to help lead the way in introducing cloud systems to the federal government. Understanding how cloud could work for the government, particularly in regard to our need for security, was something that both government and industry needed to figure out, but the transition to cloud is already saving agencies time and money due to GSA’s work.

We strive to deliver the best value to other agencies. GSA’s cloud solutions go beyond the infrastructure and e-mail contracts that your article mentioned. Our solutions enabling the acquisition of cloud include governmentwide acquisition vehicles (GWACs), Networx and Schedule 70. Over the past two years, agencies have purchased approximately $175 million in cloud services using our Alliant contract.

The federal government has unique security requirements, and the public looks to us to ensure we are not putting critical data and resources at risk. Awarding security authorizations to operate (ATOs) has been slower than anticipated. However, the time spent to get it right means agencies will save time and money in the long run. We have worked with industry to bring cloud solutions online, and to educate vendors on our security requirements.

Today, an agency can leverage FedRAMP and ATOs that have been awarded as part of the Infrastructure as a Service blanket purchase agreements and avoid the need to conduct its own security assessment, which can cost more than $100,000 and take up to nine months. This could potentially result in $10 million in savings across the government.

Cloud migration represents a major shift in the way government conducts business, which means that our acquisition models must continue to evolve. GSA is committed to ensuring that every federal agency has the savings and efficiency it needs. As long as cloud can contribute to that effort, we are committed to cloud and committed to getting cloud right.

— Mary Davie, acting commissioner, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, Washington

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