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Is Robert Gates a visionary?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to cut costs at the Defense Department illustrate a perfect example of spending money to make -- or save -- money.

Consider data center consolidation. It's no simple matter. It takes strategic planning to figure out where to consolidate and what centers to close. There's a logistical component, whether physically moving servers from one location to another or adding new network infrastructure to connect data centers and end users. It can be a time to refresh the technology (i.e. buy shiny new machines).

And yet Gates expects the Army alone to save millions of dollars annually through such consolidation. The savings come because once that initial outlay is made and the changes are done, the operation is much more efficient. Fewer machines, drawing less power and requiring less cooling, do more computing.

Gates' plan offers several other examples of consolidating resources to achieve savings, including a departmentwide inititaive to consolidate the IT infrastructures that each military base has into enterprise systems.

Technology has caught up with the government's widespread presence. Today it's possible to run the IT infrsatructure needed to serve multiple facilities at one central location, with the facilities linked in over high-speed data connections. We couldn't always do this, but the past few years have seen an acceleration of efforts to make it happen.

With luck, Gates will succeed and his plan will become a blueprint for other agencies seeking to modernize and cut spending at the same time. A leaner, less costly government that is still fully capable to deliver needed services could be the result.

Posted on Jan 07, 2011 at 12:18 PM


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