GSA cloud transition questioned in audit report

Has GSA made progress in moving the agency from Lotus Notes to the cloud? According to the Inspector General, it's hard to tell from the agency's performance measures.

General Services Administration officials have not properly assessed the headway they’ve made in transitioning GSA from Lotus Notes to the cloud, according to a new report.

Either the performance measures used to track the progress towards each of the project’s goals are unclear, the GSA inspector general reported Sept. 28, or the project simply lacks real targets. And if targets were set, officials did not adjust them to reflect the current environment.

For example, the IG found that GSA’s Office of Chief Information Officer did not update the cost analysis to reflect its efforts to decrease in-house maintenance burdens by reducing email support staff. And while the CIO projected the transition would save $15 million over five years, officials did not update the support-cost analysis with either their estimates of future benefits or their cost comparisons.


Read the IG report


Office of Management and Budget rules state that agencies must establish, and then validate, a performance-measurement baseline with clear cost, schedule and performance goals.

GSA’s move from Lotus Notes to the cloud is part of the Cloud First policy set forth in December 2010 by then-U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra. That same month, GSA signed a contract to migrate its email to the cloud, and in 2011 became the first agency to transition its entire e-mail stack.

Besides the blurry targets and savings figures, the CIO did not create sufficient controls to ensure GSA was not migrating redundant applications to the cloud, the report states. GSA’s Lotus Notes contains thousands of applications, many of which were redundant or dormant, and were maintained at 17 different GSA locations.

Officials initially used a decentralized approach to finding like applications before moving them to the cloud, but later found it necessary to create a center of excellence to review for redundancies every request to build an application.

In all, the IG could not determine whether or not GSA, in fact, was making adequate progress in meeting its goals for saving money.  The report recommended that officials clarify performance measures and redouble their hunt for duplicative applications.

Furthermore, the IG wrote that officials should prepare an updated project savings justification regarding email and collaboration tools by using actual figures.

GSA’s CIO Casey Coleman, in a Sept. 12 letter to the IG that was included as an appendix to the report, said agreed with the finding and recommendations.  She did not specify when or how those recommendations might be implemented.

 

 

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