The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has contracted with Lockheed Martin and Microsoft to migrate the email and collaboration systems supporting approximately 25,000 employees to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 system, according to a joint announcement released by Lockheed Martin and Microsoft today.

The collaboration and communication service is expected to improve EPA employees’ access to communications and mobility tools and result in expected savings of $12 million over the four-year contract period.

The migration announcement represents the latest step in what EPA Chief Information Officer and Assistant Adminstrator Malcolm Jackson described as a rapid deployment plan to contract and implement a new email and collaboration platform to help improve work processes for EPA employees.

“We’re ripping the Band-aid off,” declared Jackson at Government Technology Research Alliance (GTRA) forum in June. “We need collaboration tools like you would not believe. With the compression of budgets, we have to find a way to better enable our employees,” he said.

Under the terms of the contract, valued at $9.8 million, EPA employees will be transitioned to Office 365 for Government, a new multi-tenant cloud computing service that stores U.S. government data in a segregated community cloud designed for government customers. The service will allow EPA employees to access email, calendars, scheduling and collaboration tools for internal and external use.

Lockheed Martin will manage the migration and provide engineering and ongoing integration services. The primary email migration will be completed in early 2013.

The decision to go with Lockheed Martin in part reflects what Jackson called a “long and productive relationship” that EPA has had with Lockheed Martin. “I am excited to have them assist us in transforming the way our employees work and collaborate with one another.”

“Lockheed Martin has supported the IT needs of the EPA for more than 35 years,” said Frank Armijo vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy Solutions. He said he expects the cloud-based tools will “facilitate collaboration, communication and cost savings across the agency.”

Lockheed Martin provides a variety cloud services, including SolaSTM, a secure cloud delivery platform, dating back to its first cloud implementation in early 2009.

Greg Myers, vice president of Microsoft Federal, said EPA’s move to the cloud provides more than IT savings.

“There is tremendous potential in the cloud, not only for transforming the way government employees work, but also for helping agencies meet their environmental and energy efficiency goals,” Myers said.

He noted that Microsoft cloud services employ “the latest innovations in datacenter design and energy efficiency, providing agencies with a unique opportunity to help reduce their energy consumption, generate cost savings, and reduce the environmental impact of their overall technology footprint.”