U.S. Department of the Interior Chooses Google Apps

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The U.S. Department of the Interior announced yesterday that it has awarded a contract to Onix Networking for department-wide cloud email and collaboration services using Google Apps for Government. The contract is part of the Department of the Interior's "IT Transformation" initiative, which was announced last year and seeks to reduce costs by cutting waste and increasing the efficiency of the department's IT operations.

“This award is a great example of how our IT Transformation initiative is already delivering value to the Department,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Implementing a Department-wide, cloud-based email system that helps modernize the ways we do business while cutting costs is good government, plain and simple. We will continue to identify efficiencies to save time and taxpayer dollars using advances in technology to provide better service for less.”

Google Apps for Government is a version of Google Apps cloud services with an added layer of security that governments require. The U.S. Department of the Interior is only the latest in a series of government organizations switching to the platform since its launch two years ago. Most recently, the State of Colorado and the City of Edmonton adopted the platform.

The U.S. Department of the Interior admits to currently having seven different email systems operating within the department. This new agreement would consolidate those disparate systems into one Google cloud email service. If Onix Networking is able to prove it can meet the department's standards, over 90,000 mailboxes could be migrated before the end of this year. The total value of the contract is $34,872,728 over seven years.

In addition to email services, Department of the Interior employees will gain the use of Google services that integrate with Gmail, including video and audio chat. In addition, Google Calendar and Google Docs (presumably now Drive) contain features that enable many collaboration and organization options.

“We look forward to providing state-of-the-art communication and collaboration tools, desktop video, document sharing and new messaging technologies to help Interior employees work more effectively with each other and with external partners,” said Andrew Jackson, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Technology, Information, and Business Services. “Not only do we get the features we want in a desired security environment, but our workforce will get the cutting edge technology that many of them use in their personal lives.”

What do you think? Are you surprised that the Department of the Interior is running seven different email systems? Can any amount of technology streamline bureaucracy to the point of efficiency? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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