IG slams Energy Department for wasting energy

In an ironic twist of fate, an inspector general is criticizing the Energy Department for wasting energy.

In a May 25 audit report examining the Energy Department’s data center management, Inspector General Gregory Friedman noted that the agency had seen some progress but found multiple areas that needed additional work.

Nine locations in particular were deemed to be significant space and energy wasters. Some data centers and server rooms were not used to full capacity, and more than 74,000 square feet within 77 data centers was either empty or “otherwise inappropriately used,” the report said.

The agency also lacked visibility into how many data centers it funds, and had yet to adopt plans to identify all of those and consolidate wherever needed. Previous numbers indicated the agency operated 58 unclassified data centers but the IG audit found at least 520 more data centers or server rooms existed.

Without challenging the status quo, the agency would not only continue to waste money and energy but it would also take the agency longer to meet its own and federal energy-reduction goals, the audit said.

The inspector general recognized the agency had taken several measures to bolster energy efficiencies supporting its IT infrastructure, including powering data centers with electricity produced from experimental solar panels at Sandia National Laboratories.

“[H]owever, additional effort is necessary to ensure that all data centers operated by or on behalf of the department are managed in an energy-efficient manner,” the IG said.

The IG recommended the agency management review current and planned data center configurations and implement effective performance measures for enhancing data center energy efficiency and cutting operating costs. Management was also advised to review IT funding and resource practices, as well as ensure coordination between organizations and sites to help enhance energy efficiency and consolidation practices.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jun 1, 2012

The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) defines what a data center is. For more information, check out CIO.gov.

Fri, Jun 1, 2012

How does the IG define "Data Center" and how does the DOE define "Data Center" what criteria? That may account for some of the differences. I have seen some publications define a telco closet as a data center. Also this seems to show a negative spin on the fact the DOE has had success in server consolidation (mostly empty space) they just need to re-size and shutting down un-needed space, power and cooling. This takes $$$$ and many time contract modifications (also take time and $$$)I'm not defending DOE just trying to add a little prespective, I'm guessing of course, but it's an educated guess.

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