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IG: IRS wasting money at data centers

Jun. 7, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By TIM KAUFFMAN   |   Comments

As much as one-third of the energy consumed in the IRS' data centers is wasted because industry best practices aren't being followed, the Treasury Department's inspector general says in a new report.

The energy savings at just two enterprise computing centers the IG reviewed could total $3.2 million over four years, the IG said in the report released Monday. The actual savings could be much larger if IRS took similar measures at data centers located at the agency's nine other campuses, the IG said.

"Not fully implementing applicable best practices or other data center improvements affects the IRS's ability to minimize energy consumption and costs, resulting in the inefficient use of resources and taxpayer funds not being most effectively used," the IG said.

In response to the audit, IRS has agreed to convene a working group to study energy efficiency measures that can be taken at all of its data centers, the IG said.

The IG reviewed operations at enterprise computing centers in Memphis, Tenn., and Martinsburg, W.Va., between June 2009 and January. Issues uncovered during the audit included:

Missing floor tiles that allowed hot and cold air to mix, causing air-conditioning units in computer rooms to be overworked.

Techniques to prevent air leaks, such as brush grommets or blanking panels, were not used or were used inconsistently.

The placement of server racks was not configured to ensure separate hot and cold aisles, which limits the amount of air-conditioning needed, and there was an abundance of unused space that could be consolidated or cordoned off.

No sub-meters were placed on computer equipment and support systems, making it impossible to monitor energy consumption and performance of individual systems.

Furniture, unused computers and other old equipment was stored in the data centers, blocking airflow and causing rooms to be inefficiently cooled.

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