Federal Data Centers

Federal Data Centers

In 2016, it was estimated that there were over 10,000 federal government data centers in operation. As agencies increasingly rely on data centers to carry out their distinct missions, efficiently managing the energy consumption associated with federal data center operations has become ever more critical. Efficient operation of federal data centers stands to not only reduce energy consumption (and costs), but also offers security, reliability, and resiliency benefits. 

To prevent the proliferation of federal data centers and contain energy consumption and costs among these facilities, the Federal Government has enacted a number of orders and programs in pursuit of advancing these goals.

  • The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI): Data center growth prompted the 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which aimed to contain and reverse the path of steady data center growth in the federal sector. This, in turn led to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) in 2014, which mandated that agencies consolidate and optimize their data center fleet. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responded by issuing M-16-19, Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), which set priorities for data center consolidation and closures as well as efficiency improvements through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. To date, agencies must comply with DCOI under the latest guidance issued via M-19-19, which extended DCOI and updated key targets, metrics, and other requirements.
  • Executive Order (EO) 13834: Federal agency data center operators must also comply with Executive Order (EO) 13834, which sets forth energy and environmental performance goals, based on statutory requirements, for agencies with respect to management of facilities, including data centers. 
  • CloudSmart: In 2019, the Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer (OFCIO) replaced the longstanding "Cloud First" policy. CloudSmart is a long-term, high-level strategy to drive cloud adoption in Federal agencies. This new strategy supports agencies to achieve additional savings, security by equipping agencies with actionable information and recommendations gleaned from some of the country’s most impactful public and private sector use cases. Cloud Smart offers practical implementation guidance for agency's unique missions.
  • The Energy Act of 2020: More recently, the Energy Act of 2020 has outlined best practices for Federal data center owners and operators (such as having their data centers evaluated every 4 years), though the implementation requirements around some of these objectives are yet to be defined.