GAO said agencies have made progress on data center consolidation but lamented that some of them lack savings goals.
The Government Accountability Office said agencies have collectively made progress on closing data centers, and significant money has been saved. However, agencies need to establish clear goals to continue making progress and accurately assess future savings, according to a GAO review of 24 agencies released March 3.
In 2010, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative established a goal of closing 40 percent of government data centers to reverse the growth of data centers and save billions of dollars. But the project hit some early problems, including underestimates of the total number of federal data centers and overestimates of savings.
To refocus the consolidation effort, further IT reform legislation was enacted in December 2014 requiring "agencies to report on cost savings and requiring the GAO to annually review agencies' inventories and strategies," according to the report.
Although agencies have fallen behind on achieving FDCCI's goals, agencies are ramping up their data center consolidation efforts. Of the 24 agencies, only two did not report at least limited progress -- because they "did not have a basis to report on progress."
According to the report, 3,125 of the 10,584 identified data centers had been reported closed, a shade below 30 percent. And 19 of the 24 agencies had reported an estimated $2.8 billion in cost savings from 2011 to 2015.
The Agriculture, Defense, Interior and Treasury departments are leading the way and accounted for 84 percent of the total number of closures. DOD, Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security and the Commerce Department combined for 86 percent of the savings.
By the end of fiscal 2019, agencies plan to close 2,078 more data centers and achieve $8.2 billion in savings and cost avoidance, a number that might be understated because 10 agencies have not fully developed their cost savings goals for fiscal 2016-2018, the report states.
GAO recommends that 22 agencies "take action to improve optimization progress, including addressing any identified challenges" and that 10 agencies "take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets."
Fourteen of the agencies concurred with GAO's recommendations, four did not say whether they concurred or not, and six said they had no comments on the review.