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GSA can’t verify cloud email savings, IG says

Oct. 1, 2012 - 01:36PM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments

The General Services Administration has estimated its cloud email system will save $15 million over five years, but a new inspector general report found that GSA could neither verify those savings nor clearly determine if the cloud migration is meeting agency expectations.

According to the Sept. 28 report:

• GSA cannot verify cost savings from the project. The chief information officer has not maintained documentation on the costs of the old Lotus Notes system and the current Google email systems.

• GSA cannot fully assess if the cloud migration is meeting agency goals because the performance measures are unclear, lack targets or were not updated.

• The agency did not perform a thorough assessment of the applications migrating to the cloud to identify duplicative applications.

GSA was the first agency to move its entire staff to a single cloud email system in June 2011 and it has been touted as a leader in cloud adoption within the federal sector.

Email and collaboration tools are among several computer applications that GSA has said it will migrate to a cloud environment in response to the administration’s 2010 “Cloud First” policy. The policy required that agencies migrate three information technology services to the cloud by last June.

In a response to Federal Times on Monday, GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said GSA stands by its estimate to save at least $15 million over five years and has saved more than $2 million to date by moving email to the cloud.

GSA did not have cost savings documentation in a detailed format at the time the IG requested it, but GSA will submit a detailed cost savings analysis within the next 30 days, Hobson said.

As of Oct. 1, GSA said it has saved $2.9 million by moving to cloud email, including:

• $1.84 million in software licensing costs.

• $484,000 in hardware costs.

• $485,000 in services and support.

• $129,000 in staff reductions.

The agency said it is on target to reach $15.8 million in savings in five years, excluding energy and other savings and gains in productivity.

The IG also said GSA cannot prove that the cloud migration project has been as beneficial as the agency predicted it would be.

For example, GSA has not achieved its goal to reduce the number of people that maintain the new email system, but current performance measures don’t reflect this shortcoming.

Another performance goal is to have significant adoption of Google Docs for employee collaboration, but GSA lacks a measurable target, the report said.

Employee adoption of shared documents has increased from 30 percent to 80 percent, and 93 percent of GSA employees surveyed think cloud migration has improved internal collaboration, according to GSA.

GSA agreed with the IG’s recommendations to:

• Develop an updated cost analysis and justification document for the email project.

• Develop a program to effectively track progress.

• Take an inventory of software applications to identify duplicative applications that can be consolidated or eliminated.

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