Email as a Service: A Clear Vision into a Cloudy Future

on October 3, 2012

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

GSA’s mission is to help save the government time and money, and as acting assistant commissioner of ITS, I take that to heart.  There’s been a lot of talk recently about what GSA is or isn’t doing to help government IT move to the cloud so I thought I’d weigh in.  Helping government move to the cloud is a priority for GSA. Cloud has the ability to transform the way agencies do their work by making them more agile, effective, and efficient. At the end of 2010, OMB tapped GSA to help lead the way in introducing cloud systems to the federal government. The key was understanding how government could take advantage of the cloud’s transformative power.

Along the way, there have been growing pains for both government and industry; however, the transition to cloud is already saving agencies time and money because of GSA’s ongoing efforts to be innovative, collaborative and creative.

Creating comprehensive solutions

We strive to deliver best value and have been working closely with government and industry to create a comprehensive cloud solutions portfolio for use by government agencies looking to save millions of taxpayer dollars typically spent on IT programs. Since 2009, our solutions enabling the acquisition of cloud include governmentwide acquisition vehicles (GWACs), Networx and Schedule 70. Over the past two years, agencies have purchased approximately $175 million in cloud services using our Alliant contract.

Last month GSA announced the availability of our cloud email solution, the Email as a Service (EaaS) BPA, which will allow agencies to order pre-approved cloud- based tools for email, office automation, and electronic records management, as well as the migration and integration services necessary for a swift transition leading to rapid savings. The BPA offers recurring purchasing options at a reduced cost that is also convenient and efficient.

Cloud based email services support the Obama Administration’s mandates and initiatives to bring cloud services into the federal government and reduce the number of federal data centers, which save taxpayer dollars. We estimate that agencies will save 50 percent, about $1 million, annually for every 7,500 users migrated. Last year GSA was the first federal agency to make the move to the cloud using our Alliant GWAC to migrate 17,000 email accounts, saving $2 million to date, with an estimated savings of $15 million over five years.

What makes EaaS even more exciting is that it will leverage GSA’s innovative security program, Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which uses a “do once, use many times” approach to save agencies time and money by providing a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring. This process allows agencies to avoid the need to conduct its own security assessment, which can cost more than $100,000 and take up to nine months. This could potentially result in $10 million in savings across the government.

Recognizing Innovation

With all the great things GSA is doing, there is still more work to do. I have echoed the challenge of our administrator: when you think you’ve thought big, think bigger. Our cloud team responded by releasing a Cloud Brokerage RFI in August.  This RFI will allow us to pool government and industry’s collective knowledge around cloud acquisition to formulate future innovative and cost-effective solutions.

Cloud Brokerage and our EaaS BPA are already receiving accolades. In fact, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) gave GSA’s collaborative approach to solving the cloud challenge its innovative thinking in government recognition three weeks in a row.

Cloud Migration represents a major shift in the way government conducts business, which means that our acquisition models must continue to evolve. There is a long road ahead, and GSA will be there to support our customers. Our cloud portfolio and efforts to facilitate government-wide cloud migration continues to show that GSA focuses on its core efforts of promoting efficiency, delivering better value, and saving taxpayer dollars.

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Thinking Bigger

on August 21, 2012

NOTE: Mary Davie is serving as the Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) for 60 days effective July 30, 2012. Her Deputy, Kevin Youel Page, has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Integrated Technology Service (ITS) during this period.

This is my first blog post, so I will start with a brief introduction. I am Kevin Youel Page and it is a great honor to serve as the Acting Assistant Commissioner in Mary’s absence. Like all of us here at ITS, I believe in a great government through technology.

Prior to joining ITS, I spent time as a GSA customer as well as in industry with large and small companies. In my new role, I remain steadfastly committed to saving agencies time and money, while serving as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. If we keep the ideals of speed to savings and innovation in service of customer missions as our north star, we will be achieving our mission.

Federal IT has reached an exciting juncture as we search for new ways to take agencies to the cloud. OMB’s IT 25 Point Reform Plan and Cloud First Policy represented a turning point as agencies began to realize that the cloud could save them significant time and money. GSA has been working with agencies to realize those savings by

  • streamlining the acquisition process through new vehicles like the IaaS BPA and our longstanding GWACs,
  • establishing standardized cloud security through FedRAMP, and
  • sharing our own best practices through providing sample Statements-of-Objectives and Statements-of-Work.

Despite all of the great work that we’ve done to date, there is still more that we can do. We must continue to challenge ourselves to be innovative and to explore new acquisition models. As our acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini recently said, “Just when you think you’ve thought big, think bigger.”

We took Dan’s words to heart and submitted a Request for Information (RFI) to gather industry feedback on the concept of a cloud broker. A cloud broker is an entity that manages the use, performance, and delivery of cloud services, while negotiating relationships between cloud providers and consumers. The RFI positions us to collaborate with industry leaders in creating a cloud strategy that could enable agencies to increase asset utilization and lower IT infrastructure costs.

Following the RFI release, we hosted a Cloud Brokerage Industry Day to answer questions and listen to what people had to say. Thought leaders in federal cloud computing like Keith Trippie, the Executive Director of Enterprise System Development Office in the Department of Homeland Security, and Katie Lewin, GSA’s Cloud Computing Program Director at the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology, led a moderated Q&A discussion with over 160 participants. The RFI, presentations, and Q&A responses can be found on our Cloud webpage. Due to the enormous interest displayed and volume of feedback received, we have extended the deadline to respond to the RFI to September 7.

This was an exciting event because cloud migration represents a major change in the way that government does business, which means that our acquisition model must continue to evolve to respond to the shift. It will not be simple or easy, but GSA remains committed to paving the way to help agencies find innovative and cost-effective acquisition solutions, and I ask industry to join us in accepting this challenge. We are excited to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Please help us continue this conversation by joining my colleague Mark Day, Director of Strategic Programs at ITS, and a major contributor to the Cloud Brokerage model, for a Twitter Chat on August 28, 2012, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm EDT by following us @GSA_ITS.

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Defining the Future of Government IT

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 18, 2012

Last week, GSA had the pleasure of hosting a roundtable in Washington, DC that brought together federal CIOs, CTOs, and thought leaders in technology from the public and private sectors. Together, they discussed the future of government IT, and how agencies should respond to shrinking budgets and increased expectations for workplace efficiency.

Owing to the growing disparity between shrinking budgets and the need for emerging technologies, agency CIOs are under increasing pressure to do more with less. This presents a significant challenge and a unique opportunity for GSA to bring agencies together to identify major IT challenges, share industry best practices, and develop innovative acquisition solutions to move government IT forward.

Mission-enhancing technologies

Participants at the roundtable identified the need for mission-enhancing technologies such as mobility, cloud, video, and agency-specific mobile applications to help agencies achieve improved workforce productivity. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has led the charge in defining a strategy for mobility and cloud through the 25-point IT reform plan, “cloud-first” policy, and Digital Government Strategy; however, strategies for both video and apps are still in their infancy.

These initiatives, combined with the current budget environment, have created a climate favorable to adopting mission-enhancing technologies. Implementation has encountered challenges, however, because resources are locked in legacy systems, and agencies frequently duplicate efforts to meet similar requirements. In fact, several CIOs at the roundtable reported a belief that infrastructure requirements are more common than dissimilar across agencies. Participants expressed interest in moving more basic requirements such as backbone networks to a service-based model.

In order to move government forward, agencies must find ways to shift their resources from legacy systems to emerging technologies, and deal with security and the consumerization of IT, while eliminating duplication by transitioning to government-wide shared services. The move to shared services will reduce costs by eliminating redundancy and leveraging the buying power of the federal government.

The industry participants are using IT as a strategic business asset to build competitive advantage through human resources, reduction in space/facilities, improving business processes, and enabling information sharing and mobility.

How GSA is stepping up to the plate

Roundtable participants frequently cited GSA as a key partner in helping to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency through programs like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which was launched last week. FedRAMP provides agencies with a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring by utilizing a “do once, use many” approach that simplifies the security approval process for cloud providers, thereby saving agencies precious time and money.

We have also helped agencies meet government-wide requirements through our Networx contract that has resulted in a savings of about $7.7 billion since 1999 as compared to commercial telecommunications prices.

Agencies are asking GSA to step up to the plate by leading the shift to mission-enhancing technologies. FedRAMP and Networx are two examples, but there is still work to be done. Government must continue working with agencies and industry to define requirements and develop IT acquisition solutions that enable agencies to get more for their mission. Meetings like last week’s roundtable help position GSA as a leader in driving that process.

Do you have an idea of how government can help eliminate duplication and leverage requirements? Post in the comments section below or follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

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IT and Change Management in the Federal Workplace

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 1, 2012

Now that I’ve passed the one-year mark in writing this blog, I can look back and see what a tremendous opportunity this has been. I’ve had the chance to comment on how IT can help make government more efficient and sustainable, address the potential cost savings of IT procurement, and explain how government can achieve these savings by adopting new IT delivery models such as cloud computing and shared services.

One area that’s often overlooked during this time of change and technological innovation is the impact new technology has on federal workers. To achieve the positive effects I’ve been discussing, government leaders need to keep our entire workforce engaged with new technology. At GSA, we’ve made great progress modernizing our technology and preparing our employees to use it.

The benefits of workplace innovation

We are beginning another technology sea change with the transition to mobile government. Mobile government will be more mission-capable and responsive to the needs of the taxpayers. That’s because mobility connects employees with each other and releases them from traditional, static office space, enabling work from anywhere, at any time. Embracing mobile technology allows government to eliminate redundant systems, consolidate office space, be more sustainable, and increase the productivity of our workforce.

However, our progress should be measured by business results resulting from workers leveraging technology, not by the number of changes in and of themselves. For example, providing mobile access to employees through secure VPN and laptops is not enough. The government workforce is diverse and multi-generational, and some will have more familiarity with the technology than others. That means we need to provide training and change management that’s appropriate for employees of all backgrounds.

GSA is balancing change and engagement

GSA understands the benefits of training and enabling our employees to do more with technology. Our CIO team, led by Casey Coleman, has conducted change management programs to educate and engage employees for several new enterprise systems. For example, change management played a huge role in successfully migrating more than 17,000 GSA users from our in-house Lotus Notes e-mail system to cloud-based Google e-mail, which helped us save 50% on the cost of e-mail and decommission 45 servers.

Most recently, GSA has begun using Salesforce Chatter as an enterprise-wide internal collaboration tool. In just the past few months, Chatter has become a primary communications channel for thousands of GSA employees, enhancing the way we communicate as an agency through increased collaboration and sharing of information. We’re measuring our adoption rates for Chatter through number of posts, frequency of specific hashtags, and number of groups created. We’re finding that people across the agency can tap into expertise and knowledge in a matter of minutes in some cases and that helps us better serve our public sector partners.

GSA prepared for both Google e-mail and the Chatter rollout with mandatory online training, on-site help desks, “reverse mentoring” for our executives, and self-help videos. We also made it as simple as possible to get into these programs by using single sign-on so employees can use their existing usernames and passwords.

I invite you to share your own experiences and best practices by leaving a comment, or sending me a tweet @Marydavie.

I will also be at the annual GSA Training Conference and Expo in San Antonio from May 14-17. The EXPO is a unique opportunity to attend training and talk to GSA experts and our vendor partners about technologies like mobility, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. For more information, please visit the Expo  webpage.

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Government’s Mobile Moment

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 7, 2012

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel recently announced the development of a new Mobile Strategy at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I was there, and was glad to hear his perspective on the potential of mobile technology for government, especially since GSA has been working hard to realize that potential.

Putting mobile IT to the test

GSA has been at the mobile technology frontier for some time now. Most GSA employees have laptops and smartphones so they can work from anywhere. Our systems and internal network are fully accessible via the web. We have implemented rigorous yet manageable security to protect the agency and our employees, including mobile device management and two-factor identification for external systems. We are well on our way to reaching our goal of secure access through any device, anywhere, anytime.

We’ve taken these risks because we’re committed to making government work better, no matter the mission or the location. We say “work is what you do, not where you do it,” because we’ve seen firsthand how enabling mobility has empowered us to better serve other agencies. This experience has prepared us to advise the federal government in using mobility to improve services to citizens, engage citizens in government, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

Our mobile role

We’re closing what VanRoekel calls the productivity gap between government’s traditional methods and mobile best practices. We are working to help agencies address unique mobility requirements through existing, flexible contract vehicles like Alliant and Connections II. We are also tackling commonly shared needs through our new, streamlined programs, like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Email as a Service (EaaS), and a new wireless program.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, VanRoekel highlighted our wireless program as a pocket of excellence, because it can improve oversight and overcome the government’s fragmented mobile IT purchasing. We will soon release a wireless blanket purchase agreement (BPA) under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) to leverage the government’s buying power for wireless services and devices, including smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

The BPA will include requirements to enable enterprise-level management and reporting, and will integrate with planned modifications to our Telecommunications Expense Management Service (TEMS) FSSI. Agencies will then be able to manage their inventory and expenses through a single, secure interface, simplifying and improving the business of government. We are also part of the mGov team looking at opportunities in acquisition, inventory, and expense management to further aggregate and leverage what and how we buy.

I look forward to sharing with you more of our plans and successes in the coming months, especially following the release of the final Mobility Strategy. You can learn more about the Mobility Strategy at the Office of Management and Budget blog as well as the recently completed National Dialogue on The Federal Mobility Strategy. In the meantime, I invite you to share your thoughts and feedback by leaving a comment on this blog or finding me on Twitter.

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GSA Puts Sharing First

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 23, 2011

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel described his path forward for federal IT in a policy speech in Silicon Valley this October and again in the draft Federal IT Shared Services Strategy released just this month. He articulated a “Shared First” paradigm that will lead agencies to root out waste and duplication by sharing IT services, infrastructure, procurement vehicles, and best practices.

As the go-to partner for acquisition, GSA can help agencies go “Shared First”. We are ready to leverage our deep experience in working with customers across government to address their most challenging IT acquisition problems.

Shared IT services

The draft Shared Services Strategy requires agencies to move two “commodity IT services”—back-office IT services common to every agency—to a shared environment by December 31, 2012.

We have provided shared IT services to dozens of agencies over the years. For example, over 90 federal agencies use our USAccess identity management service to issue and manage their employee ID cards.

We are excited to help customers think about how to further consolidate their IT systems.

Shared infrastructure

Before the Federal Data Center Consolidation initiative, the federal government warehoused its data in over 3,000 data centers, tying up outsized amounts of capital and real estate and resulting in higher emissions.

According to VanRoekel, the federal government will close 1080 data centers by the end of 2015, with an estimated cost savings of $3 to $5 billion. GSA is working with agencies to achieve these savings by migrating to shared infrastructures through our data center services and cloud solutions.

Using a shared infrastructure also enhances service, since agencies can rapidly scale their capabilities up and down to match their mission needs, and recover more quickly after an emergency.

Shared procurement

Agencies also use GSA vehicles to minimize their contracting overhead. The State Department has done this by consolidating more than 100 existing task orders down to four through our Alliant and Alliant Small Business Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) for a secure network infrastructure.

When agencies buy alone, they also miss out on the volume discounts available when the government pools its buying power. Customers can get these kinds of discounts from the SmartBUY software program. GSA is also defining new ways for federal, state, local, and tribal government organizations to aggregate their demand by buying IT products as a commodity.

Shared best practices

GSA helps agencies use current best practices in contracting by posting sample statements of work (SOWs) for many of our contracts, such as Alliant and Connections II.

To support common standards, we aligned two GWACs (Alliant and Alliant Small Business) with the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) and Department of Defense Enterprise Architecture (DoDEA). This means agencies can more easily use past SOWs and report their IT investments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It also means that the scope of both GWACs grows and changes as vendors’ technology capabilities grow and change, without requiring a technical refresh.

Give us your feedback

I encourage everyone involved in government IT acquisition to review the federal Shared Services Strategy (PDF) and provide comments. For background, you can watch VanRoekel’s speech or read a transcript. I’d like to know how you plan to use a “Shared First” approach for your agency – please leave a comment or find me on Twitter!

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Speeding up the Fast Track – Coming in First for Customer Service

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 5, 2011

In April, President Obama issued Executive Order 13571, “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service”, requiring agencies to create and publish customer service plans. In line with that directive, GSA recently published its own customer service plan.

As we implement our plan, I want to share some of the ways in which we at ITS are already improving customer service. As I see it, we are on an exciting ongoing journey that directly involves our customer agencies and industry partners. Making this journey as easy and fast as possible will require three things:

  • a passion for delivering results and value
  • a willingness to take on new perspectives, and
  • frequent, open, and honest communication.

Delivering Results and Value to Customers

ITS is the federal government’s largest and most experienced IT acquisition partner. Our unique relationship with other government agencies and industry partners gives us the opportunity to create value for both our customers and for taxpayers. We work closely with most federal agencies and the best vendors in government IT, so we can share, reuse, and leverage best practices.

We help agencies identify and aggregate their shared needs, providing value that isn’t available through in-house procurement. Our partnership with GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) means that agencies can get support across the entire acquisition lifecycle to ensure that requirements are met on time, within budget, and with reduced risk.

We also reduce acquisition risk by setting up flexible, innovative contract vehicles, and working hand-in-glove with agencies and industry to define and meet requirements. This past year we solicited direct agency and industry involvement in our new cloud offerings, future telecommunications contracts, our new IT commodity program, and USAccess (HSPD-12). This collaboration has already shown positive results, including the release of the RFQ for our upcoming FSSI Wireless program.

Adopting a Different Perspective

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to see things from a different angle. By taking on our customers’ perspective, we at GSA are able to pave the way for industry to seamlessly deliver and implement IT solutions for government. Industry then has incentives to point out where GSA can improve and to share their commercial customer service best practices.

Customers also benefit from thinking big—when your agency identifies a need for a new method or procurement process, think about how other agencies could participate in a shared solution. Come talk to us. You may be surprised at what we can do, or what we already have in the works.

Increasing and Expanding Communication

To develop this broader perspective, we’re reaching out with new ways to engage customers and industry. Our efforts dovetail with President Obama’s direction to advance customer service through innovative technology.

Over the past six months, we’ve done this in a variety of ways, such as posting draft RFIs and RFQs on the BetterBuy wiki to solicit input on our FSSI Wireless and Network Services 2020 programs. We have employed two-way communications channels, such as our Twitter account, this blog, and community websites, enhancing industry’s and customers’ access to ITS and to each other. We are also overhauling our web presence to better explain our offerings and make it easier to find information. Together, these initiatives should make our initial conversations with customers more productive and meaningful.

As we create and update these tools and channels, please use them and tell us what you think. We are asking you to give us your honest assessment before, during, and after we work together. We always want to know what we could be doing better so that we remain the government’s trusted go-to resource for all of their IT and telecommunications needs.

Let me know how we’re doing by leaving a comment here or reaching me on Twitter.

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Will IT Eat Your Agency?

Posted by Mary Davie
on October 31, 2011

Last week I attended the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2011 in Orlando. What a conference! It featured great speakers and great ideas for IT, particularly government IT.

I was especially intrigued by Andrea Di Maio and Jerry Mechling’s predictions for government IT spending, because they spoke to problems GSA is already helping to solve.

Constraints on Government IT Spend

Andrea predicts that by 2013, government financial sustainability will join cost containment as a top driver and constraint for government IT spend. What did Andrea mean by “financial sustainability”, and how does it differ from cost containment? The answer is rather bleak: It’s the survival of the services we’re used to the government providing.

Jerry said IT spend will remain a greater portion of overall budgets, even as budgets shrink overall. In the past, IT investment was a “nice to have.” Now, agencies must keep a laser-like focus on their technology budget to make sure it contributes to their core mission.

Who Decides IT Spend?

Andrea also predicts that by 2014, over half of IT spend will be decided outside the IT department in at least 30% of government organizations. This prediction took me aback. If the IT department isn’t deciding what they spend on IT, who is?

One answer is industry. IT investments will be driven by changes and initiatives in the IT industry, not by IT buyers.

The other answer is tightening budgets. Agencies are considering consolidation and transition to shared services models, which will require the IT department and CIO to take on new roles to make that happen. In the near future, CIOs may need to see themselves more as “Enterprise Program Managers” than as pure CIOs.

How GSA Can Help

We have programs in place to assist agencies facing these trends:

Innovative new acquisition models. Our new IT commodity buying solution is coming online this quarter. We’re leveraging the bulk buying power of the government to offer lower prices for leading IT commodities like laptops and warranty services. We’re issuing blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) off of IT Schedule 70 to leverage existing contracts, and we’ll also be creating a more comprehensive solution that’s not limited by today’s processes and systems. From what I heard at the symposium, we‘ll need that future acquisition model yesterday.

IT consolidation. We can help agencies consolidate both their IT systems and the way they manage their IT programs. Our cloud and data center services solutions enable agencies to fulfill OMB’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and Cloud First policy. In terms of IT program management, the State Department is consolidating more than 100 existing task orders down to four task orders on our Alliant GWAC.

Innovative shared services. For shared services, agencies can look to TEMS, our telecommunications expense management offering, and USAccess, which provides end-to-end identity management services to 90 agencies and over 620,000 employees. Our Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) can also manage part or all of the IT acquisition process.

Do you agree with these predictions? What do you think will happen to government IT spending in the next few years? What do you think agencies will need to do to adapt? And how can GSA help you?

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Achieving the IT Reform Plan: GSA’s Four Secrets of Success

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 27, 2011

Government agencies are six months into implementing the Federal CIO’s 25 Point IT Reform Plan, and according to agency CIO status blogs, we’re on schedule. That’s great news.

However, how we finish is more important than how we stay on schedule. With Federal CIO Vivek Kundra moving on, we need to work that much harder.

That’s why I want to share some secrets that will help us achieve the plan the Federal OCIO set in motion:

Secret #1 – GSA has the first-mover advantage (and wants to share!)
As Casey Coleman pointed out in her blog, GSA successfully addressed point 3 of the IT reform plan: We moved our email to the cloud using our own Alliant GWAC. We can share our scope of work and lessons learned with your agency.

Secret #2 – GSA has the solutions to meet your IT reform plan challenges
We’ve created the first OMB-sanctioned cloud computing-specific contract vehicles for Infrastructure as a Service and Email as a Service, fulfilling points 4 and 5.

We can also help you consolidate your commodity IT spending under agency CIOs (point #20), an area where government is behind the curve. We have stood up a new IT commodity buying program and are building our Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless program to provide streamlined acquisition support.

Secret #3 – Involve industry in any IT project
Industry involvement is critical for any IT project, as is communicating early, often, and throughout the process.

At GSA, we are involving industry and agencies to develop new solutions such as our cloud BPAs, our FSSI Wireless, and SmartBUY, as well as planning our Network Services program strategy.

In addition to face-to-face conversations, we are using tools like wikis, discussion boards, and idea-generation tools. We have found these tools to be great ways to augment traditional market research and requirements definition processes, reaching a broader audience as well as increasing transparency and participation.

Check out GSA’s use of a wiki to get input on RFIs, requirements, and acquisition strategy at the BetterBuy Wiki. We’d be glad to share lessons learned and “how-tos” with your agency.

Secret #4 – Pick the right partners
As the government’s primary workplace solutions provider and a proving ground for new IT solutions, GSA can provide the tips, tools, and technologies to enable you to see all of your IT projects through to successful conclusion.

Let me know how we can help your agency by leaving a comment or reaching me on Twitter.

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General Sustainability Administration?

Posted by Mary Davie
on April 22, 2011

A recent blog post questioned GSA’s recent focus on sustainability as well as our ability to deliver innovative information technology (IT) solutions.

I think that GSA’s pursuit of sustainability is the best way to improve how we deliver innovative IT solutions.

The Business of Sustainability

The real issue here seems to be how we define sustainability—is it a separate environmental bonus or is it woven into the fabric of how we do business?

GSA is obviously motivated by environmental concerns—as demonstrated by Administrator Johnson’s Zero Environmental Footprint (ZEF) “moonshot” goal—but the real impact of our sustainability effort is more nuanced.

Sustainability is a platform through which GSA and all government agencies can tackle their most critical business challenges:

  1. Organizational Change: Sustainability acts as a North Star for government and industry, inspiring change and creating a ripple effect.
  2. Operational Effectiveness: Sustainability allows us to reframe the national conversation on budget cuts as an opportunity to create less waste and use our resources more intelligently.
  3. Innovation: Sustainability is what motivates us to develop and agencies to adopt cutting-edge IT solutions, such as cloud computing.

Driving an organization towards a sustainable future is not just about creating a greener, cleaner environment for future generations—it’s also about being smart about our limited resources, and inspiring lasting change and innovation for future efficiencies.

Do More with Less

Sustainability is not a problem; it’s the answer. Here’s why:

Sustainability is a major differentiator for GSA offerings because it’s something our customers want and need. For example, the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States. That means that when GSA provides an IT solution that requires less energy to achieve the same results, we’re not only going “green” for the environment, we’re also saving “green” for our customers by cutting costs and waste.

Including sustainability into our comprehensive IT solutions improves the acquisition process. For example, we’re incorporating sustainable acquisition into the IT Schedule 70 program as well as our large IT governmentwide contracts (GWACs), such as Alliant and 8(a) STARS, which have already broken records and outpaced many previous contracts.

Our GWACs save our customers time and money precisely because they are designed to meet every agency need:

  • achieving socioeconomic credit
  • improving cybersecurity
  • fulfilling mission goals
  • attaining sustainability

As I see it, delivering integrated services is a major driver to improving GSA’s ability to meet our agency customers’ needs. In fact, GSA can only be a leading IT solution provider by factoring sustainability into everything we do.

From the start, GSA’s sustainability initiative has been about delivering a more efficient, cost-effective, and innovative government for the American people.

Let’s continue this conversation. Leave me a comment. Tweet me. Post a link to your own blog. Open communication will only make us better.

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