Government agencies are making progress when it comes to data center consolidation efforts but planned savings goals need to be established, according to a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO).
As of November 2015, agencies identified a total of 10,584 data centers, of which they reported closing 3,125 through fiscal year 2015. Notably, the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, the Interior, and the Treasury accounted for 84 percent of the total closures.
Agencies also are planning to close an additional 2,078 data centers—for a total of 5,203—by the end of fiscal year 2019. In total, 19 of the 24 agencies reported achieving an estimated $2.8 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2011 to 2015.
In particular, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and the Treasury accounted for about $2.4 billion (or about 86 percent) of the total.
Further, 21 agencies collectively reported planning an additional $5.4 billion in cost savings and avoidances, for a total of approximately $8.2 billion, through fiscal year 2019.
However, planned savings may be higher because 10 agencies that reported planned closures from fiscal years 2016 through 2018 have not fully developed their cost savings goals for these fiscal years.
Agencies provided varied reasons for not having fully developed these goals, including facing challenges such as being in the process of re-evaluating their data center consolidation strategies.
Until agencies address their challenges and complete savings goals, the $8.2 billion in total savings may be understated and agencies will not be able to satisfy provisions of a recently enacted information technology acquisition reform law.
The GAO is recommending that 10 agencies take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets.
The organization is also recommending that 22 agencies take action to improve optimization progress, including addressing any identified challenges.
Fourteen agencies agreed with GAO’s recommendations, four did not state whether they agreed or disagreed, and six stated that they had no comments.
Of the nine metric targets, only one was met by half of the 24 agencies, while the remaining eight were each met by less than half.
Agencies also reported challenges in meeting OMB’s targets, such as the decentralized nature of some agencies. The report noted that until agencies take action to improve progress against OMB’s metrics, including addressing any challenges identified, they could be hindered in making progress against OMB’s optimization targets.