GSA signs up for Google Apps

The General Services Agency will become the first federal agency to transition all of its employees to cloud-based e-mail and collaboration tools from Google.

GSA announced Wednesday it has awarded a five-year, $6.7 million contract to Unisys, which has partnered with Google and Acumen Solutions. By moving the agency's more than 15,000 employees to the new system the agency hopes to achieve 50 percent cost savings over the next five years.

“Cloud computing has a demonstrated track record of cost savings and efficiencies,” said GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman. “With this award, GSA employees will have a modern, robust e-mail and collaboration platform that better supports our mission and our mobile work force, and costs half as much.”

Cloud computing allows companies to save money by allowing a vendor to host and maintain their hardware and making firms only pay for the access and processing power they consume. The Obama administration has been a strong advocate of moving more federal operations to the cloud.

“GSA’s cloud e-mail award is in step with the administration’s ‘cloud first’ strategy and demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable, and cost effective cloud options exist to rapidly improve agency operations and services,” said GSA associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies Dave McClure.

GSA is often the first civilian federal agency to embrace new technologies or practices, meaning Wednesday's announcement was likely just the first in a series of agencies planning to move their e-mail and collaboration suites to the cloud.