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Highlights

What GAO Found

The 24 agencies participating in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative have collectively made progress on their data center closures efforts. As of November 2015, agencies identified a total of 10,584 data centers, of which they reported closing 3,125 through fiscal year 2015. Notably, the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, the Interior, and the Treasury accounted for 84 percent of these total closures. Agencies are also planning to close an additional 2,078 data centers—for a total of 5,203—by the end of fiscal year 2019.

In total, 19 of the 24 agencies reported achieving an estimated $2.8 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2011 to 2015. In particular, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and the Treasury accounted for about $2.4 billion (or about 86 percent) of the total. Further, 21 agencies collectively reported planning an additional $5.4 billion in cost savings and avoidances, for a total of approximately $8.2 billion, through fiscal year 2019.

Agency-reported Data Center Consolidation Cost Savings and Avoidances (fiscal years 2011 through 2019)

Agency-reported Data Center Consolidation Cost Savings and Avoidances (fiscal years 2011 through 2019)

However, planned savings may be higher because 10 agencies that reported planned closures from fiscal years 2016 through 2018 have not fully developed their cost savings goals for these fiscal years. Agencies provided varied reasons for not having fully developed these goals, including facing challenges such as being in the process of re-evaluating their data center consolidation strategies. Until agencies address their challenges and complete savings goals, the $8.2 billion in total savings may be understated and agencies will not be able to satisfy provisions of a recently enacted information technology acquisition reform law.

Of the 24 agencies, 22 made limited progress against the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) fiscal year 2015 data center optimization performance metrics, such as the utilization of data center facilities. Two agencies did not have a basis to report on progress. Of the nine metric targets, only one was met by half of the 24 agencies, while the remaining eight were each met by less than half. Agencies reported challenges in meeting OMB's targets, such as the decentralized nature of some agencies. Until agencies take action to improve progress against OMB's metrics, including addressing any challenges identified, they could be hindered in making progress against OMB's optimization targets.

Why GAO Did This Study

In 2010, as the focal point for information technology management across the government, OMB's Federal Chief Information Officer launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to reduce the growing number of centers. Information technology reform legislation was subsequently enacted in December 2014 that included a series of provisions related to the federal data center consolidation effort, including requiring agencies to report on cost savings and requiring GAO to annually review agency inventories and strategies.

GAO's objectives were to (1) review agencies' data center closures to date and plans for further closures, (2) evaluate agencies' progress in achieving consolidation savings and describe plans for future savings, and (3) assess agencies' progress against OMB's data center optimization targets. To do so, GAO assessed agencies' data center inventories, reviewed agency-reported cost savings and avoidance documentation, and compared agencies' data center optimization data as of November 2015 against OMB's established targets.

Reissued on March 4, 2016

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Recommendations

GAO is recommending that 10 agencies take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets. GAO is also recommending that 22 agencies take action to improve optimization progress, including addressing any identified challenges. Fourteen agencies agreed with GAO's recommendations, 4 did not state whether they agreed or disagreed, and 6 stated that they had no comments.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior 1. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of the Interior agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its Office of the Chief Information Officer expected to submit the department's annual data center consolidation plan by September 2016. Based on this information, the department stated that it expected to have fiscal year 2016 cost savings and avoidance actuals and fiscal year 2017 and 2018 cost savings and avoidance targets established by December 2016. In April 2017, the Department of the Interior updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018, thereby addressing the weakness we had previously reported on. By identifying and reporting this information, the department is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Department of Transportation 2. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was actively engaging with the department's Operating Administrations and was reconciling its original cost savings and avoidance targets to develop and update a yearly calculation as part of Transportation's multi-year strategy to consolidate and optimize its data centers. As of April 2018, Transportation had updated its Data Center Optimization Initiative strategic plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018, thereby addressing the weakness we had previously reported on. By identifying and reporting this information, the department is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Department of the Treasury 3. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of the Treasury has taken steps to implement our recommendation. In April 2017, the Department of the Treasury updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 thereby addressing the weakness we had previously reported on. By identifying and reporting this information, the department is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Department of State 4. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of reviewing pending guidance on the Office of Management and Budget's Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The department further stated that once the DCOI guidance was issued, the department would update its targets and finalize a plan to more adequately address cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. In April 2018, the Department updated its DCOI strategic plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018, thereby addressing the weakness we had previously reported on. By identifying and reporting this information, the department is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Environmental Protection Agency 5. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, EPA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to establish a single data center within each of several specific geographical areas. For each data center selected for retention, the agency stated that it planned to make upgrades to address any potential capacity or performance issues, but noted that the specific plans for each data center slated for consolidation were under development. EPA stated that the resulting total cost savings were under assessment and had not yet been determined. As of June 2018, EPA has updated its Data Center Optimization Initiative strategic plan to include planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018, thereby addressing the weaknesses we had previously reported. By taking these actions, the agency is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 6. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed with, and has taken initial steps to implement, our recommendation. In May 2016, NASA management stated in correspondence to GAO that it was evaluating available total cost of ownership tools, with the intent of using such tools to create historical approximations of savings through fiscal year 2015, as well as creating projections of savings for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. The agency added that a specific tool was selected and the model was being configured with the latest NASA-specific data for testing. NASA intended to deliver the historical approximations, as well as future projections of savings, by October 2016. In April 2017, NASA updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 thereby addressing the weaknesses we had previously reported. By taking these actions, the agency is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
National Science Foundation 7. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The National Science Foundation has taken steps to implement our recommendation. As of April 2018, National Science Foundation has updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to included planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018, thereby addressing the weaknesses we had previously reported. By taking these actions, the agency is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Small Business Administration 8. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Small Business Administration agreed with our recommendation and has taken steps to implement it. Specifically, in April 2018, the Small Business Administration updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2017 through 2018 thereby addressing the weakness we had previously reported on. By identifying and reporting this information, the department is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 9. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it was working to modify its acquisition strategy for a follow-on agency-wide managed services contract, which was expected to result in cost savings, but did not provide specific details regarding when this would be completed. In April 2017, NRC updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 thereby addressing the weaknesses we had previously reported. As a result, NRC is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Office of Personnel Management 10. To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.
Closed - Implemented
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) agreed with, and has taken steps to implement, our recommendation. In May 2016, OPM stated in correspondence to GAO that efforts were underway to consolidate its data centers from four to two. OPM stated it was actively tracking the planned cost savings and avoidance amounts and adjusting targets to reflect schedule changes. In April 2017, OPM updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to included planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 thereby addressing the weaknesses we had previously reported. As a result, OPM is better positioned to measure and evaluate progress in achieving data center related cost savings and avoidances.
Department of Homeland Security 11. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, DHS stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Agriculture 12. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Agriculture generally agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Agriculture stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Education 13. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Education agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. As of July 2017, the Department of Education reports that it has moved all its data center services to cloud computing providers and that it no longer has any agency-owned data centers. Because the department no longer owns any data centers, it cannot report progress against meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) data center optimization metrics. However, OMB's Data Center Optimization Initiative also encourages agencies to consolidate and close existing data centers by moving those facilities' services into a cloud computing environment. To that end, Education officials note that by moving to cloud service providers, the department is able to respond timely to the shifts in user demand for server-based solutions by reducing capital expenditures and focusing more on provisioned services with service-catalog-based ordering from these utility-based "as a service" models. By taking these actions, Education has closed all agency-owned data centers and met a key intent of OMB's optimization initiative that agencies should transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services.
Department of Commerce 14. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Commerce stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense 15. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it is considering several actions to improve optimization progress in the areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established targets. For example, DOD stated that it was moving toward on-premises and off-premises commercial cloud hosting services to enable migration of workloads to more efficient environments intended to improve the virtualization and density metrics. Further, the department stated that its Chief Information Officer was working directly with the services to reconcile the instances of multiple Installation Processing Nodes on individual bases, posts, camps, and stations. DOD also stated that all of these actions will enable the closure of additional data centers, increase efficiencies in all categories, and drive greater savings. However, in August 2016, OMB announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed, added three new metrics, and retained two (facility utilization and power usage effectiveness). OMB further clarified that the two retained metrics applied only to agency-owned tiered data centers. We are no longer tracking agency progress against the seven metrics that were dropped, and only monitoring progress against the two metrics that were retained. Subsequently, the department provided an updated data center consolidation and optimization strategy in May 2019. In the strategy, DOD classifies its data centers into several categories: enterprise data centers that will remain open and will be optimized to meet OMB metric targets, local data centers that will be closed , and local data centers that serve special needs and cannot be consolidated. For the enterprise data centers, DOD states that those facilities will be optimized to meet the established targets for facility utilization (80 percent or higher) and power efficiency (1.5 or lower). DOD's strategy establishes a deadline for completing the local data center closures and meeting the optimization targets in its enterprise data centers by the end of fiscal year 2023. By taking steps to improve its optimization performance, DOD has increased the likelihood that the department can achieve the expected benefits of optimization and the resulting cost savings.
Department of Energy 16. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Energy agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Energy stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Housing and Urban Development 17. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its ability to attain the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established target value for the optimization metrics would require the department to further consolidate data center resources and migrate from contractor-owned and operated data centers to multi-tenant, shared data centers. The department further stated that this effort would be accomplished under the HUD Enterprise and Architecture Transition initiative that was restructuring infrastructure services and was targeting data center migrations to be completed by July 2017. In August 2016, OMB announced a new set of optimization metrics that replaced the metrics we analyzed in our report. While two of the original metrics (facility utilization and power usage effectiveness) were retained, OMB noted that these two metrics only applied to agency-owned tiered data centers. As of March 2018, HUD reports that it has outsourced all its data center services and that it no longer has any agency-owned data centers, and so, can no longer report progress against meeting the two applicable data center optimization metrics. DCOI encourages agencies to consolidate and close existing data centers by moving those facilities' services to more efficient infrastructure, such as a cloud computing environment, and by closing its agency-owned data centers, HUD has met a key intent of OMB's optimization initiative that agencies should transition to more efficient infrastructure.
Department of Health and Human Services 18. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, HHS stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Social Security Administration 19. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Implemented
The Social Security Administration (SSA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In April 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of transitioning to a new data center and would have the capability to report on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) optimization targets once the transition was complete in September 2016. In August 2016, OMB announced a new set of optimization metrics, to replace the metrics we analyzed in our report, and which retained only two of the original metrics (facility utilization and power usage effectiveness). Subsequently, in May 2018, we found that SSA reported meeting both those metrics. By taking steps to improve its optimization performance, SSA has increased the likelihood that the agency can achieve the expected benefits of optimization and the resulting cost savings.
Department of the Interior 20. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of the Interior (Interior) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Interior stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Justice 21. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Justice (Justice) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Justice stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Transportation 22. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Transportation stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Labor 23. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Labor (Labor) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Labor stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of the Treasury 24. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, Treasury stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
25. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, VA stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Department of State 26. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of State (State) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, the department stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Environmental Protection Agency 27. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, EPA stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
General Services Administration 28. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, GSA stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 29. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, NASA stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 30. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, NRC stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
Office of Personnel Management 31. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) agreed with our recommendation. However, in August 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced changes to the optimization metrics that we analyzed in our report. Specifically, OMB dropped seven of the metrics we originally reviewed and retained the other two. In June 2019, OMB issued new data center optimization guidance that removed the remaining two optimization metrics for agencies that we had reviewed. In November 2019, OPM stated that, as a result of OMB's changes, it did not plan to implement this recommendation.
United States Agency for International Development 32. The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.
Closed - Implemented
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In May 2016, USAID stated in correspondence to GAO that it was planning to take action to improve progress in the remaining two areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) optimization targets, including addressing any identifying challenges. The agency noted that its target completion date for implementing our recommendation was February 2017. In August 2016, OMB announced a new set of optimization metrics that replaced the metrics we analyzed in our report. While two of the original metrics (facility utilization and power usage effectiveness) were retained, OMB noted that these two metrics only applied to agency-owned tiered data centers. As of March 2018, USAID reports that it has closed all of its tiered data centers, and so, can no longer report progress against meeting the two applicable data center optimization metrics. DCOI encourages agencies to consolidate and close existing data centers by moving those facilities' services to more efficient infrastructure, such as a cloud computing environment, and by closing its agency-owned tiered data centers, USAID has met a key intent of OMB's optimization initiative that agencies should transition to more efficient infrastructure.

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