Army awards $1.2 billion contract for NSA data center in Utah

The massive facility will support the federal Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative to protect intelligence, Defense and civilian agencies' networks from cyberattacks.

Sen. Orrin Hatch said without cybersecurity advances, it is doubtful the United States can protect itself. Kevin Dietsch/Landov

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $1.2 billion contract on Sept. 24 to a consortium of construction companies to build a massive data center for the National Security Agency as part of the government's program to better protect its computer networks from attacks.

Under the contract , the Corps will build a 1.5 million-square-foot facility -- about a third larger than the U.S. Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings -- south of Salt Lake City. The center will support the government's Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative , a program President George W. Bush started in 2008 to improve how the federal government protects sensitive information from hackers and nation states trying to break into agency networks. The Obama administration has continued the initiative.

In October 2009, during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Glenn Gaffney, then deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the data center would support the intelligence community in providing foreign intelligence about cybersecurity threats and protect Defense Department networks.

He added the facility would provide technical assistance to the Homeland Security Department to protect federal civilian agency networks. Gaffney is now director for science and technology at the CIA.

The Corps of Engineers also said the NSA facility would include 100,000 square feet of raised data center space for servers and storage, 900,000 square feet for technical support and offices, and 500,000 square feet of support facilities, including an electric substation, fuel storage and a visitor control center.

The data center will occupy 200 acres inside Camp Williams , a 28,000 acre base for the Utah National Guard next to Lehi, Utah, and north of Utah Lake.

A consortium of builders -- Big-D Construction Corp. in Salt Lake City, the Dallas-based U.S. division of Balfour Beatty in the United Kingdom, and DPR Construction in Redwood City, Calif. -- beat four construction teams for the contract. The Corps kicked off the contract in December 2009.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the longest serving member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at the October 2009 press conference the data center will help protect the country's digital infrastructure against cyber threats.

"Our nation's communications networks are now such an integral part of our daily lives that even a modest disruption could have severe consequences for our economy and way of life," he said. "Without major advances in the security of these systems or a significant change in how they are constructed or operated, it is doubtful that the United States can protect itself from a growing threat."

NSA estimated the data center would provide between 5,000 and 7,000 construction jobs, and employ 200 people once it opened.

Aside from the October 2009 press conference, NSA has provided few details on the data center and did not issue a press release on the award.

The Defense Department's fiscal 2010 military construction budget request disclosed the facility would be designed to support "state-of-the-art, high-performance computing devices and associated hardware," which indicates NSA intends to build a supercomputer facility.

The data center will have substantial power requirements -- 65 megawatts -- and Gaffney said, "an abundant availability of low-cost power" was one reason NSA chose Utah as the site for the center rather than outside its headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland.

The cost of electricity at Fort Meade, provided by Baltimore Gas and Electric, was probably one of NSA's single biggest expenses, said Matthew Aid, author of The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency (Bloomsbury Press, 2009). He estimated the agency could end up spending 95 percent less on electricity in Utah than in Maryland.

Setting up a data center in the West also will help NSA overcome a potential power crunch in Maryland, according to Aid. In 2006, The Baltimore Sun reported the agency's power needs had begun to exceed what Baltimore Gas and Electric could provide.

Dave Ekelsen, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, said the utility's biggest customers have demands that exceed what the data center will require. While he could not compare costs with Maryland's, Ekelsen said Rocky Mountain Power generates electricity using a mix of low-cost coal, hydro, natural gas and wind power plants.

Aid said the construction contract does not cover the cost of computers, data storage, software maintenance or secure communications systems, which he estimated would cost nearly $2 billion.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.