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To encourage federal agencies to pursue the potential efficiencies associated with cloud computing, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a "Cloud First" policy in 2011 that required agency Chief Information Officers to implement a cloud-based service whenever there was a secure, reliable, and cost-effective option.
The GAO was asked to assess agencies' progress in implementing cloud services. The GAO's objectives included assessing selected agencies' progress in using such services and determining the extent to which the agencies have experienced cost savings. The GAO selected for review the seven agencies that it reported on in 2012 in order to compare their progress since then in implementing cloud services; the agencies were selected using the size of their IT budgets and experience in using cloud services.