The Defense Department is planning in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 to launch a team to review some of the department’s worst performing data centers and recommend some for closure, officials said Thursday.
Improving the department’s data center infrastructure is one of many goals in a recently published document that outlines a larger vision for the future of the DOD’s IT environment. DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen and Randall Conway, deputy CIO for information enterprise, discussed the plan so far for the data center closure team Thursday with reporters at the Pentagon.
The focus on data center infrastructure comes after the DOD has been criticized for being behind in its data center closure goals. A March inspector general report found the department was on course to miss its goal next year for data center closures, and failed to close less than half its target.
[Read more: DOD missing data center closure goals — audit]
“We are behind in not just closing, but in getting the best value out of our data center environment. And getting the best value of what is offered today in the commercial area in data centers,” Halvorsen said Thursday.
He added: “So this is a plan that is put in place to speed that process up … I’m very confident we will do that.”
Conway said the team would be made of data center subject matter experts from all the military services. Their work would also be validated by an independent party, he said.
The team would review the top 25, or top 50 worst performing (from an efficiency standpoint) data centers, Conway said.
The team will not only make recommendations on closures, but would also figure out where that data in that center should go, Halvorsen noted.
The process will be an ongoing effort until officials feel that enough centers have been folded, Halvorsen said.
One concern with data center closure is clearly the potential impacts on the workforce. Halvorsen said this plan will help them justify their decisions.
“I’m also confident that it will provide us a better set of data that when we go to close the data centers we’ll be able to explain why this particular data center was the one chosen to close, with much more fidelity than maybe we have been able to do in the past,” he said. “And that will be important.”
Halvorsen noted that when data centers are closed, even if most of those jobs are contracted positions, it is still “somebody’s job.”
The DOD has to do their job “exactly right,” Halvorsen said, so those who talk to voters can “understand that this is what had to happen.”
“I think what this is going to do is give us a whole better set of facts that we can lay before Congress,” Halvorsen said.
Halvorsen said he expects the effort will require much deliberation.
“Will there be lots of discussions on it? I think there will be, but I actually think when you’re dealing with people’s jobs it deserves that discussion,” he said. “So, I’m OK with that.”