Summary:

Congress may gear up to do something about IT waste and data center consolidation as called for by a 2010 report, based on a hearing held this week.

Rep. Darrell Issa
photo: YouTube screenshot

A program the Obama administration established last year to review federal agencies’ portfolios of information-technology assets has identified $2.5 billion in possible savings in the next three years, Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel told a congressional committee this week, according to his prepared remarks. (Watch the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform here.)

But, as CIOs dealing with the pains of IT consolidation know, there’s plenty more work for the federal government to do in its quest to make its federal data centers and other IT assets more efficient and cost-effective. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the federal government should do so almost three years ago.

Despite the reported potential for cost savings, recent reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office highlight duplicative investments and issues with the accuracy of the data in OMB’s IT Dashboard.

The GAO report released Tuesday points out that just one of 24 federal agencies submitted a complete inventory of existing data centers, which the federal government wants to consolidate, and not one handed in a complete plan.

More generally, Rep. Darrell Issa of California said during the hearing, “estimates suggest that as much as $20 billion in taxpayer money is wasted each year.”

Rep. John Mica of Florida highlighted findings from a 2012 GAO report showing that in fiscal year 2011 the federal government “funded 622 separate human-resources systems, 580 financial-management systems and 777 supply-chain-management systems.

“So what we’ve ended up with,” Mica said, “is various federal agencies as well as offices within the different agencies making separate and very costly investments in back-office systems that often perform the same function.”

Issa has drafted legislation to set a deadline for the giving Congress a plan to implement the 2010 OMB initiative to consolidate data centers. The bill would require the federal CIO to give Congress specifics on “how agencies will use reductions in floor space, energy use, infrastructure, equipment, applications, personnel (and) increases in multiorganizational use,” as well as “appropriate consideration of shifting Federally owned data centers to commercially owned data centers.”

Clearly, the bill could benefit colocation and maybe even cloud providers. But that might not happen anytime soon.

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