Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Coburn Highlight GAO Report on Data Center Consolidation Progress

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) highlighted a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) titled, “Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal”, that reviews progress made in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. The initiative, spearheaded by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), seeks to promote the use of “green IT” to reduce power consumption of government data centers, reduce the cost of data center hardware, increase overall information technology (IT) security and shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies. OMB has identified two major goals for the initiative: to close 40 percent of the federal data centers and to achieve $3 billion of savings by the end of 2015.

The report found that federal agencies have made progress toward the initiative’s first goal of closing 40 percent, or 1,235 of the 3,133 total federal data centers by 2015, but more must be done to achieve the initiative’s goal of saving taxpayer money. By the end of December 2012, agencies had consolidated 420 data centers and have plans to close an additional 548 by December 2015. GAO could not, however, determine how much progress agencies have made toward meeting the initiative’s second goal of $3 billion in cost savings by the end of 2015. OMB, the agency responsible for tracking progress made toward the initiative’s goals, has not yet determined a consistent and repeatable method of tracking cost savings throughout agencies. This makes it uncertain whether it is possible to achieve $3 billion in savings by the end of 2015.

“The American people deserve a more efficient and effective government, particularly given the serious deficit and debt problems we face” said Chairman Carper. “Unnecessary data centers have been bleeding energy and money throughout the federal government and are a prime example of inefficient IT spending. Since taking office, President Obama and his team have taken important and innovative steps to trim the federal government’s IT portfolio, including costly data centers. Today’s GAO report shows that the administration continues to make significant progress toward meeting its goals of consolidating 1,235 data centers by the end of 2015 and savings taxpayers money. The second step to closing these data centers, though, is tracking the savings generated and putting that money to good use. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. This means it is critical that the Office of Management and Budget and agencies continue to improve their process for tracking and measuring progress on this initiative. Without accurate tracking and reporting of performance measures, we run the risk of not achieving the full potential savings. Those of us in Congress will be paying attention to how closely agencies comply and stick to their consolidation plans. I look forward to working with OMB and the agencies to ensure that this important program reaches its full potential.”

“The Office of Management and Budget was right in 2010 to establish an initiative to consolidate duplicative data centers, but today’s GAO report shows that progress has not been satisfactory and raises significant concerns,” Dr. Coburn said. “Namely, OMB has failed to identify and track cost savings.  Without this important metric OMB has no way to compare their progress to their original goal, which was to find $3 billion in savings.  I encourage OMB to quickly institute the procedural reforms the GAO has outlined to improve their implementation effort and to ensure responsibilities are being fully executed.  These include making changes to reporting requirements, bettering coordination between various administrative actors, and enhancing oversight of agency consolidations.  I look forward to working with the new leadership at OMB to ensure the consolidation effort is successful by improving OMB’s practices and holding agencies accountable.”