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Interior Department Tries Again With Cloud Email

After a failed attempt to award Microsoft the contract to move to hosted email and collaboration services, the department is shopping for a new provider.

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The Department of the Interior has gone back to the drawing board with its plan to find a company to help it move 88,000 employees to cloud-based email and collaboration.

The department has put out a new request for proposals to find a cloud service provider after it agreed in September to abandon a plan to award the contract to Microsoft. In return, a federal judge dropped a lawsuit Google brought against the department claiming it had been excluded from the bidding process, ending nearly year of legal contention over the contract.

Now that the battle is over, Interior once again is seeking to standardize all of its personnel on a common e-mail and collaboration platform to cut costs and increase productivity for employees by "modernizing and transforming the way they conduct business," according to the RFP.

[ The Department of Energy is using cloud computing to help measure the expansion of the universe in its Magellan project. Read more at Federal Researchers Push Limits Of Cloud Computing. ]

Interior also is looking for the service provider to provision and monitor the services, which should include e-mail, calendaring, e-mail archiving, journaling, instant messaging, desktop and video conferencing, and support for mobile devices, according to the RFP. The services also must be deployed in a secure computing environment that meets federal standards and regulations while also satisfying the service availability needs of the department.

Interior aims to award a contract for the service on or about April 30 and wants to move all of its employees by December, according to the RFP. Interested service providers have until Feb. 29 to respond to the request, which will result in a one-year award with six one-year options.

At the time it planned to award Microsoft an estimated $59 million contract to do the job last January, Interior was out ahead of some of its federal counterparts in moving e-mail and collaboration to the cloud. Now it's more than a year behind in its plans as other agencies and departments have been moving ahead.

The General Services Administration (GSA) was the first federal agency to complete its cloud-based e-mail migration, with a move to Google Apps in July.

The feds have been adopting cloud computing as part of a mandate by President Obama's first CIO Vivek Kundra, who instituted policy across agencies to consider the cloud first when considering new IT projects in order to, among other benefits, cut costs and reduce wasteful spending. His successor, Steven VanRoekel, has continued the policy.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

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