Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced a bill to help reduce government inefficiency by consolidating the total number of federal data centers, and making those data centers more efficient. Because federal agencies have been slow to act on consolidation initiatives, the bill sets hard deadlines and requires agencies to conduct inventories and implement consolidation strategies. Numerous studies have shown a relatively low utilization rate of the current infrastructure, resulting in an enormous amount of wasted space and energy -- and incurring unnecessary costs.
In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instructed federal agencies to develop consolidation plans under the administration's Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which could save up to $3 billion by 2015, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), with additional savings beyond that date. However, GAO also found that a number of agencies have been slow to implement these plans -- or, in some cases, to even inventory the total number of data centers they currently manage. Under the FDCCI, the federal government set a goal of shutting down at least 1,200 of the over 3,000 known data centers it owns and operates.
"At a time when we are facing tough choices to cut spending and lower the deficit, this is a commonsense proposal that will help the federal government save billions in taxpayer dollars while also conserving energy," Bennet said. "We already know that this plan is a simple way to reduce inefficiency and it ensures that federal agencies are taking action to identify and shut down unnecessary centers."
"Across the federal government, duplication, overlap and mismanagement costs taxpayers at least $250 billion every year. The way to solve that problem is one program and one area at a time," Dr. Coburn said. "I'm proud to join my colleagues in offering legislation that will consolidate duplicative data centers and help save taxpayers up to $3 billion."
"With over $17 trillion in debt, there's no excuse to continue to spend millions on wasteful and unnecessary federal data centers -- some of which are utilizing only 5 percent of their capacity," said Ayotte. "Our bipartisan legislation is a common sense measure that will save taxpayer dollars by speeding up consolidation and increasing the efficiency of data centers across government."
The cost just to pay for the electricity to operate federal servers and data centers across the government is about $450 million annually. According to the Department of Energy, data center spaces can consume 100 to 200 times more electricity than a standard office space. This bipartisan legislation would help support OMB's government-wide effort to bring down these costs and conserve energy at the same time.
This bill would require participating federal agencies to submit complete data center inventories and a consolidation strategy, which must include a timeline for implementation and cost-savings estimates. The legislation includes hard deadlines, and participating agencies must also submit annual updates on their progress for the next five years. In addition, the law would require the GAO to verify agency data center inventories, and would direct OMB to routinely report to Congress on cost savings realized to date.
The GAO has publicly endorsed the legislation, saying it is necessary to ensure that agencies close down unnecessary data centers by the target deadline. The senators have worked closely with OMB and GAO to ensure that this legislation will help strengthen the initiative and achieve meaningful savings.