IG: DOD behind on data centers

Consolidating data centers to save money has been a signature initiative of Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen, but the DOD inspector general says the department is lagging.

Shutterstock image: black data center with white floors and ceiling.

Consolidating data centers to save money has been a key goal for Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen, but a new inspector general report says the department is lagging in that effort.

DOD did not meet a requirement to close 40 percent of its data centers by the end of fiscal 2015 because the department's strategy did not account for the Office of Management and Budget's revised definition of data centers, the IG found. The requirement comes from the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, a six-year-old program to reverse the growth of federal data centers.

The Pentagon is well short of the FDCCI mark, according to the IG. Of the 3,115 data centers reported in DOD's Data Center Inventory Management system, only 568 (18 percent) had been closed by the end of fiscal 2015.

The IG report states that DOD's CIO did not enforce compliance with a department requirement that there be one processing node per installation. "As a result, DOD will not reduce its energy and real estate footprint or achieve the cost savings outlined in the FDCCI," the audit states.

Furthermore, DOD is not on track to reach its internal goal of reducing data centers by 60 percent by fiscal 2018, according to the IG. The report recommends that Halvorsen's office revise its strategy to include a plan for meeting that goal and a process for monitoring component agencies' progress on consolidating data centers.

In response to a draft of the report, Halvorsen wrote, "Although DOD does not agree with every aspect of the report findings, DOD does agree more aggressive action is required to achieve data center consolidation and accepts the DOD IG recommendations."

Halvorsen's office is in the process of drawing up a revised strategy that he said would be ready by the end of September. In his written response to the IG, he said the plan will "account for the increase in the number of data centers...and cloud computing's impact on those numbers."

He said he is also seeking relief from OMB for data center metrics that cover "special-purpose processing nodes," which are data centers that have no direct connection to the DOD Information Network.

"SPPNs are largely non-severable from the facilities or equipment they support and therefore present very limited consolidation opportunity," Halvorsen wrote.

He told Congress last week he wasn't satisfied with the amount of money the department had saved by consolidating data centers and said officials were taking steps to save more than the projected $1.8 billion through fiscal 2018.

FDCCI, meanwhile, is due for some adjustments of its own. Federal CIO Tony Scott released a new Data Center Optimization Initiative in draft form on March 2. Comments on that guidance, which would supersede FDCCI, are due by April 1.

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