Oops: GSA official overstates cloud savings

Misstatement multiplies actual savings by a factor of 500

The General Services Administration has acknowledged that the agency has not, in fact, saved $850 million through cloud computing services, as the senior GSA official in charge of cloud computing told an audience at FOSE.

The savings are actually about $1.7 million per year, the agency now says.

At a conference on March 23, the GSA’s Katie Lewin said the agency saved $850 million through a cloud computing application. Lewin is the chief of staff in the GSA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and program manager for the GSA’s cloud computing initiative. She made the estimate while speaking on a panel discussing federal cloud computing initiatives at the FOSE conference.

On March 26, a GSA press secretary speaking on Lewin’s behalf said that Lewin may have misspoken. The press secretary said the estimated savings were $1.7 million, making the $850 million figure an error by a factor of 500.

At the FOSE event, Lewin was discussing use cases for cloud computing on the Apps.gov federal Web site. As for the GSA use case, she said, “we saved $850 million.”

In a question-and-answer session, Lewin was asked to elaborate on how the savings were achieved, and over what time frame. She said the $850 million represented “savings and cost avoidance” by using cloud computing for USA.gov. She declined to offer further details, instead directing a reporter to send her an e-mail message.

Caren Auchman, press secretary for the GSA, responded in an e-mail message on March 26 stating that “Katie had told me that she may have misspoke [sic] on the panel.”

By moving USA.gov to the cloud, the GSA has saved $1.7 million a year, Auchman wrote in the e-mail message.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Thu, May 13, 2010

We only have to look at Enron, MCI, and HealthSouth to see that industry is NOT more honest than government. Business people frequently lie to protect their profits (read as jobs). This is why President Reagan quoted the Russian proverb, "Trust but verify".

Wed, Mar 31, 2010

Worse yet, why hasn't anybody asked GSA what expertise they have at providing cloud services? And then ask them why they ignored the combined advice and guidance of a number of SPEs when they were putting this debacle together. Spekaing of which, why aren't companies protesting, the way GSA cobbled this together they didn't get competition IAW CICA. Don't misunederstand me, it ought to be done, it just ought to be done right.

Wed, Mar 31, 2010

This is another example of why government shouldn't be in the business of providing services. GSA is selling cloud services but doesn't have a motivation to tell the truth while doing it. In the private sector if we lie we risk our reputation and the profits that pay our salaries. Government agencies, especially those in bed with the White House will lie, pat each other on the back and just go on without consequences.

Tue, Mar 30, 2010

GSA overstating cost savings. Imagine that...

Tue, Mar 30, 2010

Seems like Lewin is trying to show that she's White House material.

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