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GSA's Hashmi goes to GitHub to talk IT trends and strategies

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GSA's Sonny Hashmi

The General Services Administration's shift to modular contracts, cloud-based services and open architecture will continue, the agency's acting CIO said in an April 11 discussion.

During an hour-long GitChat -- a GitHub-based online discussion organized and produced by GovFresh -- acting GSA CIO Sonny Hashmi said the agency's investment in agile and modular contracts for IT will allow it "to buy just enough, ensure mission outcomes and then buy more as needed."

GSA will continue to buy various technologies "as a service" to align demand more closely with supply. "More of what we do will be in the open-source arena, so that poses new acquisition challenges for us, but we are working through them," he said.

Hashmi later added that in the future, more of GSA's resources will reside in the cloud, and its business systems -- particularly the "incredibly important" Integrated Award Environment and Common Acquisition Platform systems portfolios -- will migrate to open-first, API-driven architectures.

GSA also continues to seek alternatives to one-off IT systems for its federal agency customers. "Overall, we are looking to use what works...for us (public cloud services such as Google Apps for email), use someone else's solution if it's already available (partnering with other agencies for hosting, apps, modules, etc.), and focusing on common platforms that can be used over and over again (reuse of code, data, APIs), rather than monolithic built-from-scratch systems," he said.

Hashmi also said the conversation about cloud services at government agencies has evolved from "Can we do it?" to "How and when can we do it?" He attributed the change to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program's common security framework for cloud solutions that all government agencies can use.

Hashmi said he serves on the FedRAMP Technology Evaluation Board with the CIOs of the Defense and Homeland Security departments, "and we are seeing a much higher level of capability maturity among the federal cloud service providers."

Hashmi's choice of venue for the discussion reinforced his emphasis on agile, open and collaborative IT approaches. Launched in 2008, GitHub is a platform for sharing and collaborating on code and has become an increasingly popular home for agencies' open-source IT projects. (The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency announced on April 11 that it was the latest agency to launch a public GitHub repository.) 

GitHub government lead Ben Balter has been pushing the potential of non-code collaborations as well. A former presidential innovation fellow, Balter wrote and shared the code that allows for easy online Q&As on GitHub and has hosted his own with GSA's 18F team, Philadelphia's former Chief Data Officer Mark Headd and U.S. Open Data Institute Director Waldo Jaquith.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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