On Press Releases, Contractors and Hyperinflation

A gentle note to contractors: A little spin may be all too common in press releases, but beware of jumping the shark entirely.

An April 5 press release from Compu Dynamics, which describes itself as "a leading provider of mission-critical infrastructure solutions and services," said the company had been selected by the Postal Service Inspector General's office to "consolidate four of its data centers into one new state-of-the-art facility."

That press release later formed the basis of a Reuters article, which was re-posted widely online.

When a Nextgov freelancer tried to follow up with the Postal Service IG for a feature story this week, though, a confused public affairs person told him the IG's office is a small operation with no data centers, let alone a plan to consolidate them.

The IG's public relations director Agapi Doulaveris told Nextgov on Wednesday, after doing some follow-up research, that the agency is indeed consolidating four closets-full of computer equipment at its Arlington, Va., office into a small computer room, recently vacated by another tenant.

Doulaveris has no idea why Compu Dynamics used the term "data center" in its press release to describe such a small batch of equipment, she said.

Keep in mind the Office of Management and Budget has defined a data center as being "at least 500 square feet," about the size of a small apartment, though many federal data centers stretch out to 10,000 square feet or larger.

OMB's most recent list of 373 data centers slated for closure by the end of 2012 doesn't list any centers owned by the entire Postal Service, let alone by its inspector general.

A receptionist at Compu Dynamics declined to speak about the press release Tuesday and said the company's president Stephen Altizer had referred questions to the Postal Service.

The government expects to save $3 billion by closing down or consolidating roughly one third of its 2,100 data centers over five years.