Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing an amendment to help reduce waste and government inefficiency by consolidating the total number of federal data centers and making those data centers more efficient. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act was introduced with Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tom Carper (D-DE), 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 we can help reduce unnecessary waste in the federal government, save energy, and take a chunk out of our deficit," Bennet said. "OMB set an ambitious goal, and it's time that we hold agencies accountable to help save taxpayers up to $3 billion."
The amendment was introduced as a standalone bill last month and was promptly passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) the following week with unanimous bipartisan support by a voice vote.
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 thousands of data centers it owns and operates.
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).