Data Center Optimization:

Additional Agency Actions Needed to Meet OMB Goals

GAO-19-241: Published: Apr 11, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 2019.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carol C. Harris
(202) 512-4456
harriscc@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Federal agencies operate thousands of data centers and since 2010 have been required to close unneeded facilities and improve the performance of the remaining centers. Across the government, agencies have closed 6,250 centers to date and saved $2.7 billion.

However, only 2 agencies in our review planned to meet September 2018 government-wide optimization goals that include, for example, a target for how much time data servers sit unused.

We recommended that agencies improve data centers' operational efficiency and identify further savings.

 

Racks of black servers in a windowless white room at a Social Security Administration data center.

Racks of black servers in a windowless white room at a Social Security Administration data center.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carol C. Harris
(202) 512-4456
harriscc@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

What GAO Found

The 24 agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) reported mixed progress toward achieving OMB's goals for closing data centers and realizing the associated savings by September 2018. As of August 2018, 13 agencies reported that they had met, or had plans to meet, all of their OMB-assigned closure goals by the deadline. However, 11 agencies reported that they did not have plans to meet their goals. Further, 16 agencies reported that, as of August 2018, they had met, or planned to meet, their cost savings targets, for a total of $2.36 billion in cost savings for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. This is about $0.38 billion less than OMB's DCOI savings goal of $2.7 billion. This shortfall is the result of 5 agencies reporting less in planned cost savings and avoidances in their DCOI strategic plans, as compared to their savings targets established for them by OMB. Three agencies did not have a cost savings target and did not report any achieved savings.

In addition, the 24 agencies reported limited progress against OMB's five data center optimization targets for server utilization and automated monitoring, energy metering, power usage effectiveness, facility utilization, and virtualization. As of August 2018, the agencies reported that 3 had met three targets, 9 had met one target, and 10 met none of the targets. Two agencies did not have a basis to report on progress as they do not own any data centers. Further, as of August 2018, 20 agencies did not plan to meet all of OMB's fiscal year 2018 optimization goals. Specifically, only 2 agencies reported plans to meet all applicable targets; 6 reported that they did not plan to meet any of the targets (see figure).

Agencies' Planned Fiscal Year 2018 Progress against OMB's Five Data Center Optimization Metrics, as of August 2018

Agencies' Planned Fiscal Year 2018 Progress against OMB's Five Data Center Optimization Metrics, as of August 2018

We selected 6 agencies that had demonstrated success towards meeting their DCOI goals and those agencies reported a number of key practices that contributed to their efforts. The officials noted the importance of, among other things, obtaining executive leadership support for consolidation and optimization activities, employing an organization-wide communications plan, and focusing on data center closures. The officials also cited the use of past experience and lessons learned to inform improvements to future consolidation plans and processes.

Why GAO Did This Study

In December 2014, Congress enacted federal IT acquisition reform legislation that included provisions related to ongoing federal data center consolidation efforts. OMB's Federal Chief Information Officer launched DCOI to build on prior data center consolidation efforts; improve federal data centers' performance; and establish goals for inventory closures, cost savings and avoidances, and optimizing performance.

The 2014 legislation included a provision for GAO to annually review agencies' data center inventories and strategies. Accordingly, GAO's objectives were to (1) evaluate agencies' progress and plans for data center closures and cost savings; (2) assess agencies' progress against OMB's data center optimization targets; (3) and identify effective agency practices for achieving data center closures, cost savings, and optimization progress. To do so, GAO assessed the 24 DCOI agencies' data center inventories as of August 2018; reviewed their reported cost savings documentation; evaluated their data center optimization strategic plans; and assessed their progress against OMB's established optimization targets. GAO also solicited practices that selected agencies reported to be effective in meeting DCOI goals.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making 36 recommendations to 22 agencies to improve performance against established DCOI goals. Eleven agencies agreed with the recommendations, three did not fully agree, one disagreed, and seven neither agreed nor disagreed, as discussed in the report.

For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established by OMB under DCOI. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should identify additional savings opportunities to achieve the targets for data center-related cost savings established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  7. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 7)

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  8. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 8)

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  9. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 9)

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  10. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 10)

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

  11. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DHS should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 11)

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

  12. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Interior should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 12)

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  13. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Interior should take action to meet the data center-related cost savings established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 13)

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  14. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Interior should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 14)

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  15. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established for Justice under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 15)

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  16. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Labor (Labor) should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 16)

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  17. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 17)

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  18. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 18)

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  19. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 19)

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  20. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 20)

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  21. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Treasury should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 21)

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  22. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 22)

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  23. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of VA should take action to meet the data center-related cost savings established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 23)

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  24. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of VA should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 24)

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  25. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 25)

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  26. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of EPA should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 26)

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  27. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 27)

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  28. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 28)

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  29. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the National Science Foundation should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 29)

    Agency Affected: National Science Foundation

  30. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 30)

    Agency Affected: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  31. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) should take action to meet the data center-related cost savings established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 31)

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  32. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OPM should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 32)

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  33. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 33)

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  34. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) should take action to meet the data center-related cost savings established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 34)

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  35. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of SSA should take action to meet the data center optimization metric targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 35)

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  36. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should take action to meet the data center closure targets established under DCOI by OMB. (Recommendation 36)

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Apr 9, 2019

Dec 13, 2018

Dec 12, 2018

Dec 11, 2018

Nov 13, 2018

Sep 27, 2018

Aug 2, 2018

Jun 13, 2018

May 24, 2018

May 23, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here