Feds Unveil Cloud E-mail Services for Agencies

GSA Selects 17 Companies to Furnish Services
Feds Unveil Cloud E-mail Services for Agencies

U.S. federal agencies will find it easier to transition to cloud-based e-mail services because of 20 blanket purchase agreements awarded to 17 companies that the General Services Administration announced Aug. 30.

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A move to cloud-based e-mail services should save time, resources and taxpayer dollars, said Mary Davie, acting commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Services. Citing a Forrester Research study, GSA estimates that average cost savings for agencies migrating to cloud-based e-mail should amount to $11 a mailbox each month, or $1 million a year. That's a cost reduction of about 50 percent from existing e-mail services.

But will government agencies feel comfortable putting the data associated with e-mails on the cloud despite the savings? "They'll probably have a little more angst and a little less comfort in turning their data over to cloud a provider," said Ray Bjorkland, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Deltek, a management consultancy that advises vendors providing technology services and products to the government. "In many cases, GSA's blessing will be sufficient."

Meeting Security Standards

That's because the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, known as FedRAMP, that took effect last year requires cloud providers to offer e-mail services that are as secure as those that agencies provide themselves [see Feds Explain How FedRAMP Will Work]. "That means agencies will be able to leverage FedRAMP for the e-mail as a service blanket purchase agreement, dramatically reducing the time required for security assessment and authorization," GSA spokesman Dan Cruz said.

In 2011, GSA became the first federal agency to move to a cloud-based e-mail system, saving $2 million dollars to date. Over the next five years, GSA said it expects to see another 50 percent savings with an estimated $15 million reduction in IT costs.

"Not only have we reduced costs, but we have also made significant gains in environmental sustainability - we shut down 45 servers, which is equivalent to taking 60 cars off the road," David McClure, GSA associate administration of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, told Congress last year.

In making its announcement Aug. 30, the GSA said the new contracts go beyond basic e-mail services, with vendors also furnishing government agencies with cloud-based office automation, electronic records management, migration services and integration services.

The companies that received these contracts are Accenture Federal Services, Autonomic Resources, CGI Federal, Ciracom, Computer Sciences Corp., Dell Federal Systems, DLT Solutions, General Dynamics Information Technology, Harris IT Service, IBM Global Business Services, Lockheed Martin, Onix Networking, Science Applications International, Smartronix, Systems Research and Applications, Technosource and Unisys.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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