The Defense Department closed fewer than one-in-five of its data centers last year, less than half its target, and is on course to miss its goal next year as well, according to a new watchdog report.
The department closed 18 percent of its data centers — 568 of 3,115 total facilities — by the end of fiscal year 2015, compared with the 40 percent required under the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, according to an inspector general audit released Tuesday.
The department also probably won’t meet its own internal goal of 60 percent of its centers closed by fiscal year 2018 if things continue as planned, the report said.
The Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency are leading among DOD agencies and military branches, closing 30 and 29 percent of their data centers respectively before the end of fiscal year 2015, still well below the 40 percent goal for all federal agencies set by the Office of Management and Budget under the FDCCI.
As the cause of the missed goal, the inspector general points to CIO Terry Halvorsen’s decision not to overhaul the department’s consolidation strategy after OMB broadened its definition of data centers to include smaller ones.
“The DoD CIO did not revise its March 2010 data center consolidation strategy to account for the increased number of data centers after OMB revised the data center definition to include smaller facilities,” the report says. The change is what counted as data center “caused the number of data centers managed by DoD to increase from 772 to more than 1,000. The number continued to increase as DoD Components discovered more data centers based on the revised definition.”
According to DOD officials, when the definition was revised, a large number of “special purpose processing node” data centers suddenly fell under that new definition and were added to the count, effectively preventing meet the 2015 target. Officials also told auditors “SPPNs would prevent DoD from reaching its 60-percent data center reduction goal” for fiscal year 2018. “Specifically, of the 1,663 data centers not scheduled to close by FY 2018, 1,096 (67 percent) are SPPNs,” the report states.
In his response to the report, Halvorsen said the SPPNs could not be moved to the cloud, as were the other data centers being consolidated. He therefore unsuccessfully sought “relief from OMB to exclude SPPNs from its data center consolidation metrics because SPPNs could not be severed from the facilities or equipment they supported.”
Additionally, the audit states that information on many of the closed data centers was not reportedly accurately because Halvorsen and his office did not issue clear guidance on how components should report and update data on their closures. Of 119 centers the IG reviewed, it found inaccurate information in the system for 68 of them.
Despite these shortcomings, Halvorsen still has his sights set high for DOD data center consolidation.
In written testimony for a recent hearing with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on DOD’s budget request for fiscal year 2017, Halvorsen said though “DoD continues to reduce the number of physical sites and administrators needed to operate facilities to not only save money and reduce our footprint, but to also improve security,” he is “not yet satisfied with the savings achieved or the current savings projections to-date.”
“While DoD has projected $1.8 billion in cumulative savings through FY2018, the Department is taking steps to aggressively drive more savings,” his testimony says.