New GAO Report Highlights Cost Savings in Data Center Consolidations, Need for Improved Reporting

Published: Sep 26, 2014

Today, a bipartisan group of members of Congress highlighted a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on federal agencies’ efforts to consolidate their data centers and achieve cost savings.

The GAO report found that 19 of the 24 agencies participating in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative reported an estimated $1.1 billion in cost savings between fiscal years 2011 and 2013. In addition, 21 agencies reported planning an additional $2.1 billion in cost savings and avoidances by the end of fiscal year 2015, for a total of approximately $3.3 billion—an amount that is about $300 million higher than the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) original $3 billion goal. While the report highlights the cost savings potential of the Initiative, it also underscores the need for agencies to improve reporting on consolidation cost savings.

“The Administration’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative is an ambitious challenge that is worth meeting – and today’s report from the Government Accountability Office underscores its potential,” said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “This report shows that agencies are achieving significant cost savings and taking innovative steps to trim the federal government’s massive information technology portfolio – saving billions of taxpayer dollars in the process. That being said, the report also underscores the critical need for agencies to improve reporting. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Without accurate tracking and reporting of performance measures, we run the risk of not achieving the full potential savings. This means it is critical that the Office of Management and Budget and agencies continue to improve their process for reporting, tracking and measuring progress on this initiative. Along with this, I will continue to work closely with my colleagues in the Senate and House on bipartisan legislation that will address the necessary updates and upgrades to the federal government’s information technology management.”

Congressman Issa, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: “Today’s GAO report underscores that more savings are possible in Data Center Consolidation than the Administration has estimated. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, FITARA, which has already passed the House and been reported out of Committee in the Senate, would require agencies to properly measure and report data center information and would give taxpayers the ability to see where the government could, and should, be saving more money.  We cannot afford to miss these opportunities to save the taxpayers’ money.”

Congressman Cummings, Ranking Member of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee: “As this report demonstrates, the Administration’s Data Center Consolidation Initiative has saved taxpayers at least $1.1 billion dollars to date, and will save billions more in the future.  To make sure we know just how much the federal government has saved through this initiative, agencies should work to improve how they track and account for these savings.”

Congressman John Mica, Chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Operations: “While the report is welcome news, the Federal Government is still wasting as much as 25% of an estimated $80 billion in annual federal IT expenditures through a lack of consolidation, the use and acquisition of outmoded technologies and a failure to utilize cost savings measures.  With OMB’s reported data center utilization as low as five percent; we still have a long way to go to save taxpayers the enormous amounts of money being squandered each year.”

Congressman Connolly, Ranking Member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Operations: “As an early advocate of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, I am pleased that the Administration is on track to meet its goal of saving $3.3 billion by consolidating approximately 40 percent of agency data centers by the end of 2015. However, GAO’s findings also highlight uneven progress, incomplete reporting, and inadequate metrics.  The report reinforces my concern that more than four years after the launch of the FDCCI, we are losing sight of the initial long-term strategic goals of the initiative, which include promoting ‘Green IT,’ reducing operational costs, enhancing IT security, and transitioning IT investments into more efficient computing platforms, such as cloud computing. Moving forward, it is imperative that we enact the bipartisan FITARA this Congress to ensure that the next U.S. CIO prioritizes and strengthens data center optimization efforts, including sharpening OMB’s focus on how well we are achieving the four original goals.”