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I ran across an interesting article today about the federal government and cloud computing in the Federal Times via EnterpriseITPlanet.com’s Monday News Roundup.

The article describes how the The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of Citizen Services and Communications has recently switched from hosting www.usa.gov, the federal government’s main website, on outdated in-house servers to the cloud.

The results are impressive. From using 45 servers on the old system, the federal government website now only requires three to run. The switch has saved the agency $1.7 million over the past year.

Now other agencies are looking to switch to the cloud because all of the right incentives are there: it’s cheap, efficient, and environmentally-friendly. A potentially exciting application is the new initiative to make government more transparent by allowing federal agencies to interact with the public via websites (which are hosted in the cloud).

It’s generally wise to not be overly-enthusiastic about new government programs before they prove their worth. But whether the federal government will indeed become more transparent or not as a result of the web, it’s undeniable that technologies like cloud computing are making government better by making it more efficient.