Federal Agencies are reporting “mixed progress” meeting their goals to optimize existing data centers in recent months due to technical and budget constraints, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The new report offers plenty of positive progress by agencies on meeting DCOI goals over the past two years, but also indicates that DCOI gains are slowing.

GAO pointed to solid agency progress for Federal agencies in meeting requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.  GAO cited data that shows 24 agencies planned to close a total of 46 data centers in FY 2020, but ended up closing 96 – twice the targeted number – and saving $875 million in the process.

During FY 2021 agencies closed another 51 data centers, with 29 additional planned closures through the end of the fiscal year, with savings totaling $335 million.

Below those top-line figures, however, GAO said Federal agencies in FY 2021 reported “mixed progress” against OMB’s four data center optimization targets for virtualization, data center availability, advanced energy metering, and underutilized servers.

GAO acknowledged that agencies have realized a cumulative total of $6.6 billion in cost savings and avoidances from FY 2012 through 2021 through DCOI, but closures and savings are expected to slow in the future, according to agencies’ DCOI strategic plans.

“For example, seven agencies reported that they plan to close 83 data centers in FY 2022 through 2025, and save a total of $46.32 million,” GAO said.

GAO previously made 126 recommendations to help agencies meet their DCOI targets, and to date, agencies have implemented 101 of them.

But “until agencies fully address all previous GAO recommendations to meet their optimization performance targets, they are unlikely to fully realize the expected benefits, including cost savings from DCOI,” the report says.

Because agencies obtained top marks on the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) grading category on the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s FITARA Scorecard 13.0 issued earlier this year, the committee said the DCOI category will be dropped from future scorecards.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.