Oversight

VanRoekel: OMB has no role in approving energy-savings contracts

Steve VanRoekel 102012

Steven VanRoekel raised eyebrows with a response at a recent hearing. (FCW file photo)

U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel raised some eyebrows with his answer to a question from a House Democrat about energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) at a House Oversight and Government Reform Government Operations Subcommittee hearing on July 25.

Asked by ranking member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) about the Office of Management and Budget's role in approving ESPCs that deal with data center optimization, VanRoekel said  OMB "doesn't have a role" except for the "interpretation of policy" or "when procurements achieve a certain threshold," in which a review board reviews those prospective ESPC deals.

In the brief exchange, VanRoekel said OMB provides counsel to agencies, but emphasized that the decision of whether to carry out an ESPC deal is an agency decision.

The comments generated discussion among industry insiders from several energy savings performance companies (ESCOs) waiting to see what happens with the first potential blockbuster ESPC deal between Lockheed Martin and the Department of Energy. As FCW reported in June, that deal would allow DOE to optimize two of its data centers with no capital investment. An expected $70 million in saved energy costs would be paid to Lockheed Martin.

The deal, though, was held up in early 2013 by OMB for undisclosed reasons, even as the Navy, General Services Administration, NASA and Department of Transportation were at various stages of selecting ESCOs or looking to release notices of opportunity. One DOE official, testifying June 27 before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Energy and Oversight panel, said the continued hold up is now a DOE decision, a signal to some that DOE is capitulating to OMB.

The deal has attracted bipartisan Congressional attention, most recently with five lawmakers writing a bicameral letter in mid-July directing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and OMB Director Sylvia Burwell to clarify positions on the ESPC deal. The letter has not received an official response, but rumors about who is drafting a reply picked up steam in the wake of VanRoekel's remarks this week.

If the Lockheed Martin-DOE deal sinks, industry reps fear ESPCs won't be viable for data center optimization.

OMB previously did not comment about its role in data center ESPCs or the DOE-Lockheed Martin deal, but VanRoekel's admission that OMB can play a role in the process is important.

When FCW asked OMB about its review board, what its threshold is for involvement in a potential ESPC deal or what policy OMB has to interpret, a spokesperson referred FCW to a 2011 Presidential Memorandum on the implementation of ESPCs and a 2012 OMB Memorandum on the use of ESPCs in federal buildings.

"OMB provides guidance to agencies regarding the implementation of these memoranda," the spokesperson said.

FCW found no mention of review boards or data center optimization in those memoranda.

 

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Thu, Aug 1, 2013

Confused Too...So as I see this issue the Federal Government has an Executive Order to reduce the Federal Data Center footprint. OMB is responsible for seeing that the EO is implemented...A viable contract exists to allow privite funding to do the consolidation of the data center. The cost of the work is paid back through the reduction in energy costs. Why would OMB hold this award up when it is the agency responsible for enforcing the EO? I'm confused too

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 Confused

So let me understand what I just read...DOE wants to enter into an agreement with Lockheed/Martin, in wich LM will optimize data center energy use, and be rewarded with the savings generated IN TOTAL. This saves the U.S. tax payer and the U.S. Goverment how many dollars?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above