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FCW : November 15, 2012
November 15, 2012 FCW.COM 25 Strategic Sourcing Initiative. In fis- cal 2011, FSSI managed $339 million through several governmentwide initia- tives and reported $60 million in sav- ings. That same year, Department of Homeland Security of cials reported savings of $324 million from strategic sourcing efforts at DHS agencies. Although FSSI of cials recently told the Government Accountability Of ce that they still struggle to get agencies to commit to using the money-saving FSSI contracts, of cials are increasing- ly warming to the idea. Day said FSSI is setting a new direction for how the government capitalizes on its buying power. So far, 18 agencies are participating with FSSI, and four of them have signed on as core members. The shift to strategic sourcing is "not without a few bumps," Day said, "but it is, in fact, driv- ing these new ideas that are going to give us the ability to do a much better job." In general, GWACs are easy to use, and they free agency contracting of c- es to spend more time on mission-criti- cal purchases. Agencies can also avoid the cost of hosting their own contracts for common products, which adds to their ef ciency. "That is, in fact, what we re seeing everyday: People are working together more and more," Day said. Tapping industry's cloud expertise As of cials seek to speed internal oper- ations, they also want to get the latest technology at their ngertips fast. Day and his staff are hunting for ways to incorporate new cloud services and technologies into contracts agencies can access. And they are getting lots of input from the community. GSA released a request for informa- tion in July seeking insight into alter- native models and solutions for cloud contracts and processes, including the emerging concept of cloud brokers, entities that would manage the use, per- formance and delivery of cloud serv- ices. Brokers would also negotiate the relationship between cloud providers and cloud consumers. GSA s industry day event on the topic was standing room only as more than 100 people attended. At press time, GSA of cials had received 1,600 pages of comments and had to push back the deadline several weeks as responses continued to ood in. "We have not yet made the decision that cloud brokerage is the right idea," Day said at a cloud computing con- ference in October. But the approach "does look like a viable candidate." It is an important topic, said Mike Hettinger, vice president of the Public Sector Innovation Group at the Soft- ware and Information Industry Asso- ciation. Government officials must gure determine the parameters of a cloud brokerage --- what it entails and what services a broker should provide to meet speci ed demands. The massive response to GSA s RFI is helping to clarify a blurry eld. "It s not like hiring an insurance broker," Hettinger said. "It s a little more com- plex than that." Day said industry offers many mod- els for brokerages, and of cials need to decide whether it s best for the govern- ment to be the broker or hand off the job to an outside entity. By giving the duty to someone else, agencies might lose control of some aspects and could open the door for con icts of interest. However, a broker might be able to work faster than the government can. "There are a lot of complex ques- tions here," Day said. "The ultimate is to learn what will, in fact, drive savings and mission productivity." Day has his eye on the bigger pic- ture. "If we can speed up the ease of adoption of cloud, then that moves the savings along that much quicker and helps our community be that much more successful," he said. Leading by listening Responsibility for all those efforts does not fall to Day alone. In fact, there is some overlap on the organi- zational chart. For example, David McClure has a role to play in contract- ing as associate administrator of GSA s Of ce of Citizen Services and Innova- tive Technologies, as does Mary Davie, acting commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service and assistant com- missioner for Integrated Technology Services, which hosts the largest IT contract --- Schedule 70. "What I hear from people is, who s in charge?" Allen said. But Allen and Hettinger both praised Day s of ce for tapping industry for insight into cloud computing in gen- eral and brokerages in particular. And although he is certainly pushing for change, Day said he is putting at least as much emphasis on listening. "I think the bottom line is this: GSA has really taken a focus on cost savings and mission performance for our cus- tomers," he said. "My of ce in particu- lar is very eager to sit down with virtu- ally anybody --- from our customers or our industry partners --- and really have a conversation about how do we try some new things." ■ "That is, in fact, what we're seeing everyday: People are working together more and more."
October 30, 2012
November 30, 2012