Cracking Down on Wasteful, Duplicative Spending

For too long, the Federal Government allowed the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars to fund ineffective and duplicative projects, failing to leverage advances in technology to achieve savings. The result is that taxpayer dollars have been wasted. This should never be tolerated, but particularly with the tough fiscal situation, it’s unacceptable. It’s time that we live within our means, cut the waste too prevalent in Washington, and live up to our responsibility to the American people.

The President has made it a priority of his Administration to change the way Washington does business. As he has said many times, including in his State of the Union Address, reducing overlap and duplication within the federal government is critical to ensuring that our government operates more efficiently and effectively.

When it comes to information technology, there is no better way to identify duplication than to look at the very infrastructure that powers duplicative systems. Since 1998, the number of Federal data centers has risen from 432 to more than 2,000.  The proliferation of infrastructure has created an environment that enables redundant systems and applications to sprout like weeds – with hundreds of redundant applications, more than 24,000 websites and hundreds of HR and financial management systems across the government.

To crack down on this wasteful spending, last week I announced agency plans to close 137 data centers by the end of 2011, of which 39 have already been shut down. For example, HHS is shutting down a data center in Rockville, Maryland that is 14,992 square feet and requires $1.2 million annually for electricity costs alone.

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In total, we plan to shutdown at least 800 data centers, some 40% of our inventory over the next four and a half years. The consolidation of these data centers is expected to save over $3 billion.

In shutting down redundant and under-utilized data centers, we are starving the duplicative infrastructure that breeds unnecessary applications and wasteful IT spending.

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Vivek Kundra is the Federal Chief Information Officer.