In an era of shrinking budgets, when does it make sense for a government agency to spend money on new technology solutions? When the new technology introduces millions of dollars of savings and introduces efficiencies in service delivery so that the costs, when amortized over the life of the technology, are far outweighed by the monetary and non-monetary savings in the same period of time. This was the calculation that Casey Coleman, CIO of the General Service Administration (GSA), made when she decided to advocate for her agency’s move to the cloud back in 2010. Now, based on the realized cost savings, many other agencies are looking to make the same move.
At a recent event for federal agency technologists, Coleman highlighted some of the early successes her organization has enjoyed since moving its email and office documents to the cloud—particularly in cost savings. According to Coleman, “[the GSA] cut our costs in half, so we’re saving $15 million over five years.”
And if the cost savings isn’t dramatic enough, the improved ability of GSA staff to respond to other agency and citizen needs has had a tremendous impact on productivity. Employees now have access to critical email and documents anytime, anywhere, and from any device. This freedom, Coleman notes, means “we can be out working with customers, out working with other partners, not having to sit at a desk and do our work from an office computer.”
This flexibility has also proven invaluable in ensuring availability and continuity of operations. Adopting a cloud model has made the GSA more resilient in the midst of disaster, Coleman said. “We’re able to do our work and fulfill the GSA mission in the face of emergency situations like Superstorm Sandy when it came up the Eastern seaboard last year.” Despite the loss of power to its facilities, she recalls that employees were able to use their mobile devices to access cloud-based email and documents in order to deliver “vital services, in partnership with other agencies, to those affected by that storm.”
Clearly, the cloud continues to enable government agencies to better achieve their objectives and move the mission forward. It will continue to play an ever-increasing role in streamlining operations for greater efficiencies. As agencies look to implement a cloud strategy, best practices and lessons learned from the GSA can help ease the way.
What best practices have you learned along the way? Drop us a comment and share your insights.