Federal datacenter closures still seem to be missing the point

It's not just about consolidating the infrastructure

First it was "800 datacenter to close by 2015!" Then it became "1000 datacenters to close by 2015!" and now we have "1200 datacenters to close by 2015!"  It sure sounds like we are making progress. But I've yet to see any reports showing significant savings from the closings and restructurings that have been happening.

In his blog, Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel holds up the Census Bureau IT reorganization as his primary example of the kinds of savings that will be achieved, pointing out that they will be achieving a savings of $1.7 million in annual operating costs.  Multiply those savings by the 1200 projected closings by 2015 and you can guestimate eventual OPEX savings of over $2.4 billion per year (and yes, I realize it's not quite that simple).

But when you realize that they are closing about 30% of all current datacenters that doesn't seem like much of a savings.  According to the government IT Dashboard site, Federal IT spending for 2011 was just under $80 billion, so a $2.4B reduction amounts to only a 3% savings. Add that to the documented 10% reduction in power demands, and you still are seeing only relatively minor savings, especially when compared to the federal budget as a whole.

Part of the planned savings in future IT spending is migration to cloud services, yet we have yet to see comprehensive guidelines and proven technologies and methodologies for securing information in the cloud. Delivering reliable and secure cloud services on the scale that the Federal government seems to want to try is no trivial matter.  Every major public/private cloud services infrastructures has had failures, some of them spectacular, and running the government  with its already spotty record of delivering reliable services through its entrenched bureaucracy on a potentially less than five nines reliable backend, sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Great ideas passed down from on high, without any concerted plan, make for a good movie premise, but are they any way to run the country?