Data Centers

Hearing set to probe data center progress

data center cages

By 2015, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) is supposed to close or consolidate 1,200 of some 2,900 identified data centers under the watchful eye of the Office of Management and Budget and a joint task force drawn from 24 different agencies.

FDCCI's progress – and the accountability of its oversight bodies – will be the focus of a field hearing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Government Operations Subcommittee has scheduled for May 14 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Much of the information presented during the hearing, set for at 2:30 p.m. at Mason Hall, stems from a Government Accountability Office report that has not yet been released publicly.

One of the main questions of the hearing will be whether savings from data center consolidation actually exist yet, according to an official with knowledge of the hearing, and how much importance cost-savings should play as a metric.

When the FDCCI was first launched, OMB estimated the effort would save $3 billion to $5 billion, while GAO predicted a smaller but still impressive $2.4 billion in savings. Yet few agencies have released any details on FDCCI cost savings, leading skeptics to claim the savings are little more than smoke and mirrors. Few agencies even have complete plans in place for data center consolidation.

Thus far, it appears only the Department of Defense has publicly committed FDCCI numbers to paper, including $575 million in savings through data center consolidation and optimization in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget – a figure touted by Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel at an April 19 AFCEA event.

DOD has some 1,500 data centers -- than any other federal agency -- and by January had closed more than 130 of them.

But the $575 million in projected savings for the next fiscal year would include the expected closing of more than 250 more data centers by September 2013, which represents a big chunk of the Pentagon's $2.2 billion savings estimate from data center consolidation. The metrics used to make those estimates remain unclear.

Discussion at the hearing is also likely to include the effects of rolling the FDCCI into PortfolioStat in March – specifically, to what degree OMB and the joint task force continue to act as the accountability structure of FDCCI now that it is part of the larger PortfolioStat offer.

PortfolioStat, another OMB-driven initiative, examines individual agency's IT portfolios through "face-to-face, evidence-based review." OMB said the effort achieved $2.5 billion in savings in 2012, piggy-backing on the success of initiatives like TechStat, which has saved the government $4 billion since 2010.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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