OMB Policy Aims to Cut Data Center Spending by 25 Percent

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The Data Center Optimization Initiative aims to cut data center costs by 25 percent at the close of fiscal 2018.

The federal government has a new data center policy that officially supersedes an earlier initiative that shuttered thousands of data centers and reduced the government's energy footprint since 2010.

Released in draft format in March, the Data Center Optimization Initiative requires all Chief Financial Officers Act agencies, including the Defense Department, to “develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, improve security posture, achieve cost savings and transition to more efficient infrastructure,” such as cloud services.

The policy also states that after 180 days, agencies won’t be allowed to budget funds or resources toward building new data centers or expanding old ones without approval from the Office of Management and Budget.

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In a blog post accompanying the official policy memo, U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott said the effort will “drive progress” in three main areas: optimization, data center closures and cost savings.

The goal is to cut annual costs associated with data centers by 25 percent at the close of fiscal 2018, "result[ing] in $2.7 billion in cost savings and avoidances over the 3-year initiative,” Scott wrote.

The General Services Administration will play a major role in the new OMB’s new optimization initiative, with its Office of Governmentwide Policy serving as the “managing partner,” according to a statement by GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth.

OGP will be a policy resource “to help agencies implement optimization plans” by facilitating participation in a data center shared services marketplace, sharing best practices and information about tools used to boost data center efficiencies, and helping agencies as they report on progress toward the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

For agencies, work adhering to the new data center initiative will begin right away, which ought to excite some officials who’ve been vocal about overspending in federal IT and questioned whether the government really needs 11,000 data centers.