Bennet, Coburn Amendment Reduces Government Waste by Consolidating IT Infrastructure

Amendment to Energy Efficiency Bill Could Save Up to $3 Billion

The federal government is not on pace to reduce the number of federal data centers from 3,000 to fewer than 2,000 by 2015, a goal set by a consolidation effort aimed to reduce government waste and save roughly $3 billion in taxpayer dollars. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) are pushing a bipartisan proposal to help the government meet this goal by setting hard deadlines and requiring inventory and consolidation plans, since some agencies have been slow to act.

The senators filed an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S.1392) currently being debated on the Senate floor.

“This proposal is one commonsense way that the federal government can help reduce the deficit and in the process cut its energy consumption,” Bennet said. “The administration has already identified this plan as a way to more efficiently use taxpayer dollars, but some agencies have been dragging their feet. It’s time to move forward and get the job done.”

“This bipartisan amendment makes the federal government more efficient by closing duplicative data centers that waste energy and scarce taxpayer dollars,” Dr. Coburn said.

Federal agencies have been instructed to develop consolidation plans under the administration’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which would save up to $3 billion according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). However, a number of agencies have been slow to begin to implement the plans – or, in some cases, to even take stock of the total number of centers they currently manage.

Under the FDCCI, the federal government committed to shut down at least 1,100 of the nearly 3,000 known data centers it owns and operates. Analysis completed by the GAO and the Administration determined that this could save close to $3 billion by 2015, with additional savings in the years beyond. However, the GAO has also found that implementation of the initiative has been delayed because a number of agencies have failed to complete a full inventory of existing data centers or develop a comprehensive consolidation plan.

The Bennet-Coburn amendment would require participating federal agencies to submit a complete data center inventory and consolidation plan, which must include a timeline for implementation and cost-savings estimates, to the Office of Management and Budget by hard deadlines next year. Participating agencies must also submit annual updates on their progress for the next five years.  In addition, the law would require an Inspector General review at each agency to ensure that the data center inventory is thorough, direct OMB to update Congress on cost savings realized to date, and ensure that GAO continue its annual reviews.

The GAO has publicly argued that legislation is needed to ensure that agencies move more decisively to close down unnecessary data centers. Senators Bennet and Coburn have worked closely with OMB and GAO to ensure that this legislation will help strengthen the initiative and achieve meaningful savings.