New White House Data Center Policy to Slow Federal IT Expansion

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By: James O'Brien|

A federal push to bring down the costs of government data centers took another step forward this month when the White House issued a memo ordering proof-of-need before additional facilities and expansions can be approved.

New Hoops for IT Expansion

Under the new Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), government agencies must apply directly to the Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer when seeking the go-ahead to construct new data centers or expand existing installations. As Data Center Knowledge reports, agencies will now have to prove that new centers and expansions are necessary.

The policy also specifies benchmarks existing data centers must achieve in the areas of energy use, server consolidation and data-load absorption.

Additionally, the White House memo specifies that 25 percent of the government’s so-called tiered data centers (those with dedicated IT-only rooms and infrastructure) must close. Further, 60 percent of non-tiered centers (facilities that include servers but are not IT-only spaces) must be shuttered by the end of fiscal year 2018.

Forces Driving the Data Center Initiative

The goal of this policy is to reduce spending on federal IT systems by about $1.4 billion over the next two years, Nextgov reports.

Data Center Knowledge pegs spending on physical U.S. data centers at $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2014. There are nearly 12,000 facilities nationwide, and the government’s overall IT expenses come to about $80 billion annually.

The government initiative to bring down IT costs in the U.S. picked up speed in 2010, when the Office of Management and Budget launched the Federal DCOI. In 2014, President Barack Obama took further steps to reduce facility costs around energy, real estate, hardware, software and operations when he signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, according to the DCOI.

IT Savings Fall Short of Goals

Spending reductions have not always been swift. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office logged some $3.6 billion in savings during the DCOI’s first five years, but the figure was still billions away from targeted goals.

One IT savings strategy for the U.S. would be to share government services via cloud infrastructure. If successful, government-as-a-platform solutions could cut related costs by nearly $28 billion annually. In the newly issued memo, cloud and shared services are specified as an alternative that must be explored before new data centers are approved.

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About The Author

James O'Brien

Freelance Writer

As a journalist and writer in the branded content space, James O'Brien covers business, technology, social media, marketing, film, food, wine, writing and news. The Nieman Journalism Lab has called his work in the custom content space "sponsored content done right." He has written for major regional newspapers, and he has managed and edited established, startup and turnaround newsrooms in varied markets, from community papers to major-city dailies. He consults for firms and businesses — startups to seasoned — on the creation of effective content strategies and the establishment of practical editorial calendars for enacting them. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University, where he researched and edited Bob Dylan's other-than-song writings. He is engaged in a bibliography for Oxford University Press, covering writings about filmmaker John Cassavetes. He is the author of "The Indie Writer's Survival Guide." His short stories and poetry are published in numerous journals and magazines.

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