GAO Report Reveals Mixed Progress for Data Center Consolidation and Optimization

Published: May 31, 2018

Data CenterInformation Technology

As of August 2017, thirteen agencies reported that they had already met the goal of closing 25% of their tiered data centers. Four additional agencies reported that they plan to meet this goal by the end of FY 2018. However, five agencies do not plan to meet the goal for tiered data center closures and ten agencies do not plan to meet the goal for non-tiered data center closures.

Since FY 2010, federal agencies have been consolidating and optimizing data centers with the launch of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) which applied to 24 agencies. In August 2016, OMB replaced the FDCCI with the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The DCOI focuses on optimizing tiered data centers, implementing more efficient technology solutions, and achieving cost savings. DCOI requires agencies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, improve security, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and shared services.

The 2014 FITARA legislation tasked GAO with conducting an annual review of federal data center inventories, closures, cost savings, strategies and progress. For its most recent report, GAO assessed the 24 covered agencies’ data center inventories, cost savings, optimization strategic plans, and progress against OMB optimization targets as of August 2017.

GAO’s findings show 7,221 closures or planned closures out of 12,062 total data centers by the end of September 2018. Agencies reported combined cost savings for FY 2016 and 2017 of $1.04B, and an additional $.58B in cost savings slated for FY 2018. However, these figures fall more than $1B short of OMB’s projected DCOI cost savings goal of $2.7B for the same time period. Additionally, four agencies reported that they do not have plans to meet all of their assigned data center goals and two agencies are working with OMB to establish revised targets.

In addition to closure and cost savings goals, DCOI established targets for server utilization, power usage effectiveness (PUE), virtualization, energy metering and facility utilization. The 24 agencies reported limited progress toward any of these goals. As of August 2017, only one agency had met four targets, one agency had met three targets, six agencies had met either one or two targets, and fourteen agencies reported meeting none of the targets.

GAO made 81 recommendations to OMB and the 24 DCOI agencies in 2016 and 2017 to help improve the reporting of data center-related cost savings and to achieve optimization targets. As of March 2018, only seven of the recommendations had been fully addressed.

Although the FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 extends DCOI target deadlines until October 1, 2020, agencies have much more work to do to achieve data center optimization targets.