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Senate Bill Would Make Data Center Consolidation the Law

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This post has been updated to add details about House legislation to consolidate data centers and a White  House plan to optimize IT spending. 

A bill approved by the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday would put the power of legislation behind the Obama administration’s push to close and consolidate federal data centers.

The bill, initially introduced by Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., would require the 24 federal agencies included in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to report to the White House annually on their plans and progress to cut the government’s data center footprint.

The amended legislation the committee appproved on a voice vote Wednesday was offered by Committee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., ranking member Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. The bill will now proceed to the Senate floor.

The government is in the midst of a multi-year program to shutter or consolidate smaller data centers and server farms and move more federal software systems to efficient computer clouds. The Government Accountability Office has criticized agencies for failing to report adequately on the initiative and said the government is unlikely to meet its initial goal of saving $3 billion from the program by 2015.

“Because federal agencies have been slow to act on consolidation initiatives, [this] bill sets hard deadlines and requires agencies to conduct inventories and implement consolidation strategies,” Bennett’s office said in a statement. 

“This is a commonsense way that we can reduce unnecessary waste, save taxpayer dollars, and ensure that our federal agencies are being held accountable,” Bennett said, adding that the bill will cut both spending and energy consumption.

In March, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel rolled the government’s data center consolidation initiative in with a separate initiative known as PortfolioStat to streamline how the government buys and manages information technology.

A GAO report released on Wednesday found agencies were also failing to meet PortfolioStat benchmarks. 

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., introduced legislation that would put Congress’ mandate behind the White House’s data center initiative in 2012 but the bill did not reach the House floor before the close of the last Congress. A version of that bill was included in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House in June.  

Come to Nextgov Prime in Washington Nov. 20-21 to discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities facing federal IT leaders. Registration is free for federal employees.

(Image via kubais/Shutterstock.com)

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