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GSA slammed for setting a bad example

David McClure

GSA's Dave McClure felt some heat at a hearing on IT leadership. (File photo)

Dave McClure of the General Services Administration felt some heat during a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing on July 25.

Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) pummeled  McClure for setting a poor example in IT decision-making for other agencies to follow.

GSA, Mica said, has only closed one data center in three years, despite having identified 115 non-core data centers ripe for closing or consolidation.

The hearing was held to discuss the status of federal IT initiatives, including the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative led by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget. Mica was on the attack.

 "Then we've got McClure here, from GSA, you guys haven't set a very good example in operation," Mica said, after listening to testimony from Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel and Dave Powner of the Government Accountability Office.

McClure answered that GSA has planned to close 38 data centers by the end of fiscal 2013 and 47 by the end of fiscal 2014, but did not deny GSA had only closed one over the past three years.

However, other committee members, including Meadows, were skeptical of the ambitious numbers expected in the two months remaining in the fiscal year, given the track record.

"Where does the buck stop?" Meadows asked, staring at McClure.

McClure responded that the agency CIO "owns the issue" and the "head of the agency is ultimately responsible," noting that he is simply "the head of an office that provides tools" to get the job done. McClure is associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies

Meadows, staring at McClure, asked what would happen if GSA doesn't make the closure target.

"I think you should ask for an explanation," McClure said, suggesting the responsibility fall to GSA CIO Casey Coleman.

Meadows was not satisfied.

"We have a whole bunch of people that come and give testimony, but really don't have responsibility for implementing those things," Meadows said, clearly annoyed. "Hearing after hearing and nothing gets done. I think you have three core (data) centers, 115 non-core, and you've closed one in the past three years. Now we're going to ramp it up. Why is that?"

Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.) said GSA's move to close the data centers, announced after the subcommittee criticized GSA during a field conference it was invited to but didn't attend, looked like a disingenuous attempt to appease the subcommittee.

McClure responded that it "might have the appearance of that," but explained that the agency was not finished collecting data, thus its delay in publicizing planned closures.


Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:45 PM

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Reader comments

Mon, Jul 29, 2013

The real problem is agencies are not incentivized to save. Their reward if they cut costs and claim savings is less budget and more importantly, less operational flexibility than they have now. So why should they voluntarily "get in the box"? Until congress realizes this and figures out a way to reward rather than punish "success", they have no one to blame for their frustration.

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