recommended reading

GAO: Closed Data Centers Will Save Feds at Least $8B


The federal government’s push to close and optimize a sizable chunk of its nearly 11,000 data centers will result in at least $8.1 billion in savings through 2019. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office suggests the savings ought to be much higher.

According to data compiled by GAO, 19 of the 24 largest federal agencies have saved about $2.8 billion, closing some 3,125 data centers since 2011.

Further, GAO estimates another $5.4 billion in planned cost savings and avoidances from 2016 to 2019 by closing another 2,078 data centers.

However, that total estimated savings is likely understated, because nearly half of the agencies that planned to close data centers in the future “have not developed their cost savings and avoidance goals for these fiscal years,” GAO reported.

In other words, those 10 agencies – including the departments of Interior, State and Transportation as well as NASA, among others – said they planned to close data centers but didn’t claim any estimated cost savings. Reasons varied: In one example, DOT reported challenges in developing cost-savings forecasts because it leases space owned by different business entities or agencies with no dedicated metering.

In any case, “There’s probably a lot more savings out there,” Dave Powner, director of information technology management issues at GAO, told Nextgov.

As the report notes, agencies are directed by the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act -- known as FITARA -- to develop calculated cost savings in their multiyear strategies to optimize data center inventories.

Agencies also struggled to address nine metrics for optimizing data centers established by the Office of Management and Budget. These metrics included energy consumption, labor and storage rates, among others. Only half of the 24 agencies could meet the “data center labor efficiency” metric, and that was actually the government’s best showing. The remaining eight metrics were met by less than half the 24 agencies.

There were some bright spots -- at least for select agencies.

According to the most recent statistics, the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Interior and Treasury were responsible for 84 percent of the 3,125 data centers closed so far.

(Overall, though, the government fell short of its goal of closing 4,144 data centers.)

In addition, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury accounted for 86 percent -- or $2.4 billion -- of the total $2.8 billion that’s been saved by consolidating data centers.

OMB is implementing a new, stronger policy regarding data centers in government, but it remains unclear how its call for more metrics will be implemented by agencies still struggling to implement policies put in place five years ago.

A cursory look at OMB’s estimated data center cost savings across government through 2018 is $1.4 billion, a much lower target than what GAO estimates for savings.

(Image via /

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.