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6/7/2011
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Federal CIOs Report Progress On IT Reform

Cloud computing has been used to save money, improve uptime, and boost collaboration at the Department of Interior, Army Corps of Engineers, and Office of Personnel Management.

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The cloud remains at the heart of progress made on federal IT reform, with agencies continuing to leverage the technology to reduce costs and improve performance, according to several agency CIOs.

Key federal CIOs recently have blogged about their cloud experiences, just six months after U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra revealed a comprehensive, 25-point reform plan to reduce duplicative IT systems, increase efficiencies, and cut costs in federal IT operations.

CIOs from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of the Interior are among those who have reported on progress they've made on the plan, with the use of cloud computing a key facet of their endeavors.

Indeed, Kundra has high hopes for the cost savings moving to the cloud will bring the feds, claiming recently that the plan will save the government $5 billion annually, savings some government CIOs aren't quite sure is possible.

Still, agency CIOs said they're moving ahead to support Kundra's strategy. At the OPM, CIO Matthew Perry said moving to share services and the cloud is a "major goal of the agency." The office will see significant benefits from some early moves that have been completed and those still in progress, he said.

The OPM.gov site already has moved to the cloud and the OPM is in the process of adopting a shared services model for document management as well, he said, changes that will save the agency more than $200,000 per year.

Moreover, following Kundra's "cloud first" policy by moving other in-house systems to the cloud, the OPM expects to reduce its operations and management expenditures by 10% per year over the next three years, Perry said.

Meanwhile, Interior CIO Bernard Mazer cited the department's transition of 13 standalone email systems to the cloud as a key part of its IT reform effort, but did not mention the problems that have plagued the project so far.

A court injunction won by rival Google and reseller Onix Networks last year blocked a $59 million contract Interior made with Microsoft to move more than 80,000 agency employees to cloud-based offerings. The companies filed suit in late October claiming that Interior failed to follow federal procurement guidelines during its pursuit of a hosted email and collaboration suite last year.

Mazer said the department continues to work on plans for that deployment, as well as another project to move the DOI.gov website to the cloud "to better accommodate the five million visitors per year who use the site," he said. He did not give a timeline for completing either effort, but said they will lead to cost savings as well as "guaranteed 99.9% uptime for both projects."

Over at the Army Corps of Engineers, CIO Robert Kazimer said the agency is looking to shift some services to the cloud "to better collaborate with other government agencies and gain efficiencies" as part of its IT reform push.

He was not specific about which services, but cited the Army's commitment to "employ more agile and responsive IT, while decreasing costs and increasing efficiency" despite hitting some stumbling blocks along the way to doing so. "These efforts have been challenging at times, but we've seen and experienced increased efficiencies and are making tough choices," Kazimer said.

In addition to these efforts, the Army is in the process of consolidating a network of disparate email systems to a private cloud hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Security concerns give many companies pause as they consider migrating portions of their IT operations to cloud-based services. But you can stay safe in the cloud, as this Tech Center report explains. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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