Agencies are still trying to figure out how many data centers they have, GAO says

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Information on energy usage is often lacking.

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Agencies largely complied with a September 2011 deadline to report on their data center consolidation plans but 21 of the 24 agencies covered by the requirement had not actually completed a full data center inventory, a government watchdog reported Wednesday.

Only one of the agencies had completed its consolidation plan to specifications required by the Office of Management and Budget, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

The government plans to shutter 40 percent of its roughly 3,100 data centers by 2015, leading to a cost savings of about $5 billion.

Collecting enough information to ensure that process is as cost effective as possible, though, has proved difficult.

The Energy Department’s Office of the Inspector General reported in May, for instance, the department had failed to include about 500 mostly contractor-managed data centers in the count it delivered to OMB.

Eight agencies have given OMB only partial information on their physical server counts and 17 provided only partial information on their energy usage, according to Thursday’s GAO report.

On the planning side, 13 agencies didn’t provide a full schedule of planned closings, 17 didn’t provide a full cost-benefit analysis and 21 didn’t include cost savings information, GAO said.

Nine agencies reported they could not find sufficient funding to carry out their consolidation plans and 15 said they had trouble determining how much energy they used, according to the report.

“In the absence of important information such as schedules and cost estimates, agencies are at risk of not realizing key [Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative] goals such as anticipated cost savings and improved infrastructure utilization,” GAO said.

The September 2011 reports to OMB included plans to close 1,186 data centers by 2015 resulting in $2.4 billion in cost savings.

As of April 30, 268 data centers had been shuttered and 359 were slated for closure by September 2013, according to a government tally.

(Image via  asharkyu /Shutterstock.com)