Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) have filed a bipartisan amendment to the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 to conserve energy, save taxpayer dollars and reduce government waste by requiring federal agencies to shut down needlessly duplicative federal data centers.
Agencies have been instructed to develop consolidation plans under the administration’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which would save over $2 billion according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). However, a number of agencies have been slow to begin to implement the plans – or, in some cases, to even take stock of the total number of centers they currently manage. The proposed amendment to the cybersecurity bill seeks to remedy that.
“There are commonsense steps we can take right now to cut the deficit, reduce waste and make the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Bennet said in a statement. “The Administration has already identified this as a cost saving measure that will help reduce spending on IT needs, energy consumption, and real estate. This amendment will require the federal agencies to get the job done.”
“Closing duplicative data centers is a no-brainer way to save taxpayer dollars. The best way to reduce our $16 trillion debt is one billion dollars at a time. This bipartisan solution takes us two steps in the right direction,” said Dr. Coburn.
Under the FDCCI, the federal government committed to shut down at least 1,100 of the nearly 3,000 known data centers it owns and operates. Analysis completed by the GAO and the Administration determined that this could save close to $2.4 billion by 2015, with additional savings in the years beyond. However, the GAO has also found that implementation of the initiative has been delayed because a number of agencies have failed to complete a full inventory of existing data centers or develop a comprehensive consolidation plan.
The Bennet-Coburn amendment would require participating federal agencies to submit a complete data center inventory and consolidation plan, which must include a timeline for implementation and cost-savings estimates, to the Office of Management and Budget by hard deadlines next year. Participating agencies must also submit annual updates on their progress for the next five years. In addition, the law would require an Inspector General review at each agency to ensure that the data center inventory is thorough, direct OMB to update Congress on cost savings realized to date, and ensure that GAO continue its annual reviews.
The GAO has publicly argued that legislation is needed to ensure that agencies move more decisively to close down unnecessary data centers. Senators Bennet and Coburn have worked closely with OMB and GAO to ensure that this legislation will help strengthen the initiative and achieve meaningful savings.