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Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Advances Bipartisan Bill to Consolidate Federal IT Infrastructure, Save Taxpayer Dollars

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Location: Washington, DC

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) today advanced The Federal Data Center Consolidation Act of 2013, S. 1611, a bill to help reduce waste and government inefficiency by consolidating the total number of federal data centers, and making those data centers more efficient. HSGAC Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) joined the effort as a cosponsor of the bill introduced last week by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

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.

"This is a common sense way that we can reduce unnecessary waste, save taxpayer dollars, and ensure that our federal agencies are being held accountable. It will also help cut energy consumption at these data centers," Bennet said. "Making it through committee is an important step forward for this bill, and we welcome Chairman Carper on as a cosponsor."

"I'm proud my committee colleagues, as well as Senator Bennet from Colorado, have moved legislation forward to support OMB's own goals to consolidate duplicative data centers and save taxpayers up to $3 billion," Dr. Coburn said.

"The Administration's Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative is an ambitious challenge that is worth meeting. While evidence shows a major shift in the way the federal government thinks about and pursues IT management in its operations, it's clear that some agencies have more work to do," Chairman Carper said. "We need to salute the success stories and push those agencies that have fallen short to work harder. This measure builds off of the Administration's efforts and will help agencies focus their efforts on consolidation, better manage their inventories, and ensure that the Consolidation Initiative is seen through to its conclusion. I want to thank Senators Coburn, Bennet, and Ayotte for their work on this important issue. The American people and our budget situation demand robust results, and this legislation is an important part of that effort."

"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, and I hope the Senate will act quickly to pass this bill."

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.

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.

The bill is also supported by the Professional Services Council and the Information Technology Industry Council.

Senators Bennet and Coburn originally filed this legislation as an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S.1392).


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