Obama orders sales of excess data centers

Agencies should immediately cap the number of data centers and reduce the count by 2015.

President Barack Obama today told agencies to sell off excess data centers, among other properties, as a way to save money.

“Over the past decade, the private sector reduced its data center footprint by capitalizing on innovative technologies to increase efficiencies. However, during that same period, the federal government experienced a substantial increase in the number of data centers,” Obama wrote in a memo released today. The increase has led agencies to consume more energy and pay more in real estate costs such as operations and maintenance, he wrote.

Obama told agencies to immediately adopt a policy against expanding data centers beyond the current number and develop plans to consolidate and reduce the number of centers by 2015. Agencies must submit plans on how to reduce their data centers to the Office of Management and Budget by Aug. 30, the memo states.


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Obama told agencies to look for their real properties that aren’t necessary and get rid of them, according to the memo. The follows the administration’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to consolidate data centers that OMB announced in February.

The federal government has roughly 1,100 data centers compared with 432 in 1998, according to OMB.

Federal officials say the push to consolidate data centers makes sense because each of the more than 100 federal agencies has anywhere from five to 20 data centers. However, agencies may find it tough to shut down a center because one center can provide 1,000 jobs, they say.

Ultimately, the president expects this order to produce at least $3 billion in cost savings by the end of fiscal 2012, according to memo. Those savings should come from the property sales, reduced operating and maintenance costs, and smaller and even fewer energy bills.

The administration wants to cut its expenses in several areas. This memo comes as OMB told agencies to cut 5 percent of their fiscal 2012 discretionary budgets from programs that aren’t doing much to further an agency’s mission.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jun 11, 2010

A pretty meaingless stunt announcement. Most federal data centers are in leased space, or contained within other federal facilities or military bases. There are only a few stand-alone data centers that I have ever heard of, and some of them are in stupid locations (like flood plains in NOLA), where nobody rational puts a data center in the first place.

Fri, Jun 11, 2010

Can we cut EEO? There's an agency function that doesn't do much to further the mission...

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