Obama admin expands effort to shutter data centers

The White House announced plans today to close or consolidate 178 federal data centers in 2012, putting the government on track to meet its goal of shuttering 40 percent of data centers in the next four-and-a-half years.

The scheduled closures for next year would add to the 81 data centers that have already been shuttered this year and the 114 additional facilities that are scheduled to shut down by the end of December.

The year-old effort to reduce ballooning federal information technology costs by cutting federal data centers was recently folded into the White House's newly announced Campaign to Cut Waste. The campaign, which is being led by Vice President Joe Biden, is aimed at reducing inefficiency and duplication in federal agencies. Another much-publicized part of the campaign is the effort to scale back the more than 24,000 websites run by the federal government.

A recent GAO report found that the number of federal data centers has grown from about 432 in 1998 to more than 2,000 in 2010 and that many of those facilities perform redundant functions. The outgoing federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, who is leading the consolidation effort, has estimated that average utilization for data centers is about a quarter of capacity. Kundra has testified that the plan to close 800 data centers by 2015 would cut $5 billion by the time the effort is complete and help rein in a government IT infrastructure budget that now runs to about $26 billion a year.

Kundra is scheduled to offer more details about the federal data center initiative in a conference call this afternoon.

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