DHS data center problems addressed in funding bill

House bill to fund DHS would provide one-tenth of money Obama wanted for data center migration

The House Appropriations Committee agreed today to give the Homeland Security Department (DHS) $20 million in fiscal 2010 for the department’s program to consolidate its many data centers, considerably less than the $200 million that the Obama administration had requested for the program.

DHS officials have said the consolidation of component agencies’ resources into two departmentwide data centers would improve efficiency, security and disaster recovery. However, members of the appropriations committee agreed to a budget measure that would delay those plans in light of a recent report from DHS’ inspector general that identified a series of problems and vulnerabilities with the consolidation program.

Under the committee’s spending plan, DHS’ office of the chief information officer would get $20 million for the program in fiscal 2010, compared to the $58.8 million President Barack Obama requested. Meanwhile other agencies in DHS wouldn’t get money for their portion of the migration effort.

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), chairman of the committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee, released a report to explain the measure that cleared his subcommittee June 8. The report said the committee was “disturbed” by the IG’s findings that included “a number of alarming problems and vulnerabilities at these two data centers.”

The IG's report, dated April 16, said a lack of connectivity between the two data centers could hinder recovery capabilities and the centers also lacked necessary redundant equipment. The IG also said one of the data centers had insufficient computer space to accommodate planned data center migrations and the IG identified unmitigated threats and vulnerabilities at both centers.

Price's report said that despite having been aware of the shortcomings and agreeing with the IG’s findings, DHS officials didn’t acknowledge the problems or indicate that the department's proposed budget would deal with the problems when outlining the budget request before the committee.

“Until that happens, the committee cannot in good conscience continue funding migration of component data centers to these sites,” the report said.

Under the committee’s plan, the CIO would have 60 days from the enactment of the budget to outline how the $20 million would be spent and give quarterly reports on the progress being made on correcting the problems.

The committee approved the bill by a voice vote and the committee’s leadership tentatively plans to have the House consider it June 19.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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