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Count of data centers grows - again

Jul. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said agencies have closed 484 data centers and plan to close 855 more by October.
Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said agencies have closed 484 data centers and plan to close 855 more by October. (File)

In 2011, the Obama administration estimated the government had about 3,100 data centers. A June recount yielded more than 6,000. Now that number has grown again — to 7,145, according to figures released Thursday by lawmakers and confirmed by the Government Accountability Office at a hearing.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House subcommittee on government operations, criticized the Office of Management and Budget for the underestimate and for slow progress toward the goal of consolidating and closing centers.

“If they keep it up at this pace they have begun, it looks like it’s almost impossible to achieve that goal,” Mica said.

He said the administration needs to be more transparent about its data center consolidation efforts and to have a clear accounting of savings and closure metrics.

David Powner, director of information technology management issues at GAO, said he thinks the latest count is accurate but couldn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be changes in the number.

“I wouldn’t put money on it,” Powner said. “There are some fundamental questions about whether the government really knows what it has.”

But he said because of the nearly doubling of total data centers the overall possible savings has also doubled — from about $3 billion before to about $6 billion now.

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, who also testified at the hearing, said agencies have closed 484 data centers since 2010 . He also announced savings of $1.37 billion in data center and information technology program savings since launching the IT program data tracking tool PortfolioStat in March 2012.

He added that agencies plan 855 more data center closures by October and have identified $2.5 billion more in potential savings.

“We have made significant progress over the last year but there is still work to be done,” VanRoekel said.

He said the number of data centers has grown because of changes in the counting methodology and because agencies discovered more data centers that had previously been unaccounted for.

More important than the overall number of data centers, Van Roekel said, is the money saved and efficiencies gained by utilizing the remaining centers at a higher rate than before. Savings include energy consumption, facility maintenance cost and operational efficiencies.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called on the administration and agencies to better identify savings and efficiencies.

“We seem to be falling behind,” he said.

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