IT Management

GSA consolidates data centers, IT ops

data center

As part of the consolidation of IT operations under its CIO in Washington, D.C., the General Services Administration shut down more than three dozen data centers in fiscal 2013 with an eye toward reducing its electricity and real estate costs.

On Oct. 29, the agency said it would centralize IT operations from its 11 regions across the country, including the national capital region, under CIO Casey Coleman. The move, it said, is part of GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini's efforts to cut costs, eliminate redundancies and improve services for federal agencies and the public. All regional IT personnel will report to Coleman's office, said a GSA spokesperson.

The agency also said it had closed 37 data centers around the country as part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. The FDCCI is one of the "Big Five" federal plans – data center consolidation, mobility, security, big data and cloud computing—aimed at bringing overall federal IT costs down. FDDCI's goal is a 40-percent reduction in the number of duplicative and underused data centers across the government by 2015.

The 37 non-core data centers GSA closed, which represents 32 percent of the total it had at the start of the process, was an aggressive goal, according to the agency.  

Additionally, the agency said all of its IT contracting will be handled by the Washington, D.C., IT office. Previously, regional IT managers had handled contracting for their areas independently, the GSA spokeswoman said.

"Instead of having several CIOs serving each individual business line, or having IT staff reporting into a different program office, those resources will not be located in a new GSA IT office under the GSA CIO," the agency said in a statement. "Having a centralized GSA IT office will improve access to technology services."

The move to consolidate and centralize operations directly under Coleman was praised by observers.

"She is smart and well-respected in the CIO community," said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners. "She has a great team working for her that understands federal IT needs. She is organized and has a good sense of how things should be run. The unique challenge could be that GSA puts its contracts in place primarily for other agencies to use, so keeping that customer-facing stance will be important."

GSA is not the only federal entity shutting down data centers.

At the Defense Department, data center consolidation has been an ongoing process as the Pentagon seeks ways to streamline operations and generate efficiencies. In January 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered numerous consolidations as part of sweeping budgetary reforms.

Since then, the Defense Information Systems Agency has taken a leadership role in DOD's data center consolidation efforts. The agency established less than a dozen centralized core data centers that allow the Pentagon to whittle down the hundreds spread across the country by transferring operations to DISA's Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECCs).

DISA announced further progress in the consolidation efforts with the closure of data center operations at Dayton, Ohio, and Chambersburg, Pa. The functions of those centers were transferred to the DECCs as of Oct. 1, according to DISA.

"DISA and the military departments are aggressively consolidating their data centers and information technology infrastructure," the release stated. "This consolidation will establish a core computing infrastructure that provides assured and ubiquitous access to vital enterprise services and aggregates computing services and infrastructure requirements to gain economic efficiencies of scale."

About the Authors

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Fri, Nov 1, 2013 WHS Seattle

Interesting. What is the size of the workforce that was regional and is now reporting to one HQ? How much freedom and flexibility to the personnel in the field in San Diego or Seattle have with regards to IT decisions?

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group