The U.S. Senate last week passed a bipartisan bill to expedite the consolidation of federal data centers that could save up to $3 billion in taxpayer dollars. The bill sets hard deadlines and requires federal agencies that have yet to act on consolidation initiatives to conduct inventories and implement consolidation strategies. In addition, the law would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to verify agency data center inventories, and would direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to routinely report to Congress on cost savings realized to date.
The Federal Data Center Consolidation Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in October 2013. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) joined the effort and helped usher the bill through the committee last November.
“This bill represents a smarter, more efficient way to operate government and save taxpayer dollars. It will also reduce the federal government’s energy consumption across the country,” Bennet said. “OMB set ambitious but achievable goals that federal agencies are not on track to meet. We’re proposing to hold them accountable in these efforts.”
“The Federal Data Center Consolidation Act builds upon OMB’s efforts to reduce duplication in federal data centers. GAO has described this legislation as ‘essential’ to ensuring agencies make adequate progress in consolidating their data center inventories and saving taxpayers money,” Dr. Coburn said. “The bill is a crucial component in our efforts to reform the way the federal government acquires and manages IT.”
“The Administration’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative is an ambitious challenge that is worth meeting. While evidence shows a major shift in the way the federal government thinks about and pursues IT management in its operations, it’s clear that some agencies have more work to do,” Chairman Carper said. “We need to salute the success stories and push those agencies that have fallen short to work harder. This measure is part of a larger effort to improve our federal government’s IT management and will help agencies focus their efforts on consolidation, better manage their inventories, and ensure that the Administration’s Consolidation Initiative is seen through to its conclusion. I want to thank Senators Coburn, Bennet, and Ayotte for their work on this important issue.”
“With over $17 trillion in debt, there’s no excuse to continue to spend millions on wasteful and unnecessary federal data centers – some of which are utilizing only a fraction of their capacity,” said Ayotte. “I’m pleased that the Senate passed our bipartisan bill, which will save taxpayer dollars by speeding up consolidation and increasing the efficiency of data centers across government.”
A number of studies have shown a relatively low utilization rate of the current IT infrastructure, resulting in an enormous amount of wasted space and energy – and unnecessary costs. In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instructed federal agencies to develop consolidation plans under the administration’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which could save up to $3 billion by 2015, according to the GAO, with additional savings beyond that date. However, the GAO also found that a number of agencies have been slow to implement these plans – or, in some cases, to even inventory the total number of data centers they currently manage.
The GAO has publicly endorsed the legislation, saying it is vital to ensure that agencies close down unnecessary data centers by the target deadline. The senators have worked closely with OMB and GAO to ensure that this bill will help strengthen the initiative and achieve meaningful savings.
The lawmakers previously filed the bill as an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 and to the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.