Three years later, the federal government is still clueless about consolidation

Three years later, the federal government is still clueless about consolidation

Summary: The five-year federal datacenter consolidation program still lacks metrics to measure actual cost savings.


It's been three years since the glorious announcement that the US federal government would be closing and consolidating an overabundance of datacenters in order to streamline IT processes and achieve $3 billion per year in cost savings directly from the closures by the 2015 target date. According to a study released yesterday (PDF) by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), not only is the process not on track, but it still lacks mechanisms to measure the progress and dollar savings of the ongoing consolidations and closures. The report places blame for the lack of progress and the inability to accurately determine what has been done on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

This determination was reached as a result of an audit of the process, performed over a six-month period covering the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. With 24 governmental organizations explicitly being targeted for the consolidation and datacenter closure process, the report found that only five of them had reported progress that resulted in estimated datacenter savings. Those groups that have reported closures and estimated savings reported only general information, and the reports lack information on the size of the datacenters being shut down.

The report also highlighted the fact that despite the GAO starting in June 2011, there were no complete plans for the consolidation process submitted by any of the agencies doing the IT downsizing. There had also been little progress made in inventories being completed and plans for the process being submitted. The finding was that in June 2012, only three agencies had submitted complete inventories, and only one had submitted a consolidation plan. And even those three inventories were outdated, as the OMB had changed the reporting requirements, and none of those inventories matched the new model.

Testimony by various responsible parties in front of congress has also focused on a lack of leadership from the OMB and a certain level of concern that the efforts being made aren't targeted at achieving the highest possible level of savings. The GAO has described the level of savings currently achieved as "minimal", and the reports from the affected agencies themselves, which are likely to be optimistic, claim less than $650 million in savings, or just over 20 percent of the goal.

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Topics: Data Centers, Government

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  • why not run for public office

    they definitely need more like you and me to fix things...
  • data center serves wrong agenda, one set by corrupt officials:

    One must identify traitors as one discovers them;
    alt links:
  • A study in bureaucratic survival

    I remember this from my Master's degree in Bureaucratic Behavior.

    One of the core courses was "The Passive-Aggressive (PA) Response". We studied two techniques for "PA" data submission. First was the clueless response - sending late and incomplete data that doesn't respond to the data request. A slightly more sophisticated version of this approach is to constantly request clarification on the most trivial details of the data request. Second was the inundation response - sending massive amounts of (often useless) data that the requestor can't possibly cope with.

    The PA Response is best implemented in conjunction with the Congressional Delay Stratagem. While Congressmen and Senators generally can't find their way out of a paper bag, they are remarkably effective at blocking efforts to remove jobs from their state.

    Another key component of the PA Response is "The Catastrophic Solution." Simply choose the job cuts and consolidations that will have the most catastrophic effect on the greatest number of people, or the most influential people. The FAA's response to sequestration was a textbook case of this aproach. Threatening the vacation plans of Congress was one of the most masterful bureaucratic ploys of the last century.

    Armed with tools like these, the well-trained bureaucrat can fend off almost any assault on his or her kingdom. Further details can be found in my doctoral dissertation, "Bureaucratic Inertia, or the Descent into Entropy."
  • The challenge is...

    Making the transition without disrupting critical services. A lot of organizations don't have the luxury of shutting things down for six months to plan and execute on a massive project like this. Yes, there is bureaucracy in every large organization, which is why so many projects are delivered late. It is good to set goals and drive toward them, but most people don't adequately account for constraints and roadblocks they're likely to run into.