UK public sector veteran calls GSA $2.5 billion RFQ interesting but . . .

Posted on June 8, 2011


Given that this is cloud computing week on the Procurement Insights blog . . . reminds me of the old Mike Douglas Show (yes you would have to be in your 50s to remember Douglas’ talk show), which was big for themed segments, we are focusing a great deal of electronic print on the GSA’s $2.5 billion cloud computing RFQ.  As a result, I thought that I would invite one of our resident experts to provide his two cents in terms of what this massive project really entails.

For those of you who regularly follow this blog you will know that Colin Cram, who has more than 30 plus years public sector experience, has been a frequent guest on the PI Social Media Network’s radio, television and electronic print venues.

Colin Cram

Here is what Cram had to say about the GSA RFQ:

This looks very interesting. I have looked quickly through the RFQ, though I would wish to spend more time reading and understanding what is proposed before commenting in detail. However, several thoughts immediately spring to mind. Firstly, is this another massive project with the usual potential to go wrong and ratchet up costs? I am sure that the USA has had the same problem as in the UK where the cost of projects used to be under-estimated in order to get them agreed and started and then when costs rose, the money was always found. Secondly, if it works, it sounds most exciting and could be copied by other governments. Thirdly, despite my first comments, it sounds hugely expensive. I thought cloud computing should be fairly low cost. Fourthly, stemming from my previous comment, is it over-specified – as government projects often are? The over-specification often exists because of the need to reach a consensus and keep stakeholders on board and results in enormous unnecessary complexity and cost (and often time over-runs). My initial thoughts are that the requirement does not look OTT, but I am not a technical expert. Fifthly, it could be a field day for hackers in China, so security could be massively costly. Sixthly, I wonder how much business will eventually go to SMEs. Breaking it down into the lots and the way evaluation is proposed looks to me as if SMEs should have a greater chance of winning business. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.  Coordinating the project is going to be a headache – the more so, the more the business is divided up between different companies.

So what do you think?  Do you agree with Colin’s take on this $2.5 billion mega project?  If yes or no, I invite you to share your thoughts with us through the comment section of this blog post.