OMB Unveils Data Center Consolidation, Cloud Plan

Feds to Reduce Data Centers by 800 from 2,100
OMB Unveils Data Center Consolidation, Cloud Plan
Eighteen months in the works, the White House Office of Management and Budget Thursday unveiled a 25-point plan to reform federal government information technology management that emphasizes secure data center consolidation and cloud computing.

Among the goals of consolidating data centers - reducing by at least 800 from 2,100 - is to increase the overall IT security posture of the government, Federal Chief Information Office Vivek Kundra said.

Tim Young of Deloitte Consulting's federal practice, former deputy administrator for IT and e-government at OMB, says fewer data centers simply reduces risk, "primarily because you are consolidating and reducing the government's technology footprint, therefore, leaving fewer assets on the ground and increasing the amount of resources you can apply to those assets to secure them from various security incidents such as infatuation, exfiltration and hacking."

The plan also calls for Kundra to publish within the next six months a strategy to accelerate the safe and secure adoption of cloud computing across the government. The plan encourages the use of existing security standards to assure the safety of cloud computing offerings, and tasked the National Institute of Standards and Technologies - working with other agencies, industries, academia and standards development organizations - to develop new standards to fill in the gaps.

"While cloud computing services are currently being used, experts cite security, interoperability and portability as major barriers to further adoption," Kundra says in the 39-page report. "The expectation is that standards will shorten the adoption cycle, enabling cost savings and an increased ability to quickly create and deploy enterprise applications. "

In the report, Kundra says the plan would shift the focus to execution and oversight and away from policy, moving the government toward a more nimble, cost effective and citizen focused future. "We must get rid of the waste and inefficiencies in our systems," he says. "Outdated technologies and information systems undermine our efficiency and threaten our security."

Under the plan, Kundra says, federal IT projects would no longer last multiple years without delivering meaningful functionality: "While IT projects throughout the government will always have risks, there are no excuses for spectacular failures."

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An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the number of data centers would be reduced to 800.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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