The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has adopted cloud-first policy as part of its IT strategy for government agencies.

The new government IT strategy is an outcome of the President's Accountable Government Initiative, which followed the President's call towards freezing non-security discretionary spending for three years, cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term, and restoring fiscal sustainability over the medium term.

In order to reduce the budget deficit the government agencies are due to incorporate spending cuts and restructuring of entire operations. And in this context one of government's initiatives related to agencies on IT infrastructure states that In coordination with the data center consolidations, agencies should evaluate the potential to adopt cloud computing solutions by analyzing computing alternatives for IT investments in FY 2012.

The target of its default 'cloud first' policy is to reduce datacenter size by 40 percent which would result in consolidation of 2,000 government datacenters resulting in cost savings and increased efficiency.

Jeff Zients, OMB's deputy management director and chief performance officer, detailed OMBs strategy to bridge the IT gap between private and public sector, which required fundamental changes in the government agencies' IT strategy.

One of the pillars of the strategy is adoption of light technologies and shared solutions. The strategy's focus is to effectively use $80 billion allocated for IT by the government every year.

Alluding to the private-public sector gap in June, Peter Orszag, then-OMB Director, said: When many of my colleagues went from the cutting-edge, social media-focused Obama presidential campaign into the federal government, they remarked that it was like going from an X-box to an Atari.

Here is a list of some of the major cloud migrations affected by federal, state and local governments in 2010:

April - The City of Los Angeles committed to Google's cloud apps deal. LA has more than 40 departments and 30,000 users and the city official expect $5 million in savings over a 5-year contract.

September - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced an agreement under which 100,000 City employees would migrate to cloud-based Microsoft applications which would enable New York City to save $50 million.

September - US state of Minnesota became the first state to move a large collaboration and communication suite in a private cloud environment. It switched its Exchange email servers to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). The state of Minnesota moved 30,000 government email users to the cloud.

October - The Interior Department handed a contract to Microsoft for a web-based email and collaboration platform to replace 13 systems currently used by its 88,000 staff. The contract is worth $59 million over five years.

October - Google announced that all state agencies -representing 10,000 employees - at the State of Wyoming will migrate to Google cloud apps resulting in savings of $1 million annually.

December - The General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $6.7 million five-year contract to Google and its partners to deploy Google Apps for its 17,000 employees.

As the governments continue to squeeze out as much productivity as they can from tax payer dollars, cloud adoption is here to stay not merely as a cost saving tool but also to catch up with enterprise IT productivity gains.