As agencies have continued to close data centers by participating in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), adapting to new technologies and cybersecurity must be front of mind for these closures, a Government Accountability Office expert said today.

Speaking during the Future Focused Technology online forum today, Acting Director for Information Technology and Cybersecurity at GAO David Hinchman said there are lightyears of difference in technology for optimization compared to just a decade ago.

As agencies have worked to optimize their data centers, “they’ve had to look for other technologies that allow them to be more efficient with what they do with their data, their systems and their applications, and that gets you into our cloud computing,” Hinchman said, adding “and then that raises a whole different raft of issues about what do you do to efficiently get your applications in the cloud.”

Hinchman suggested that agencies need to conclude if they need to design new applications to move into the cloud or if they can do a simple “lift and shift.”

“And as we’ve learned in the last couple of years, there’s also the increasingly large issue of cybersecurity, and whether that data is truly safe and what are we doing to ensure its safety,” Hinchman said.

In early March 2021, GAO released a report on the 24 agencies participating in the DCOI and the progress made towards goals set for 2019-2020. GAO found that the government was expected to see a cumulative total savings of $6.24 billion in cost savings and avoidance from fiscal year (FY) 2012 through FY2020.

The report also found that the 24 agencies have excluded 4,500 data centers from their inventories due to shifting definitions by OMB. Hinchman said of the 4,500 data centers that no longer qualify as a data center, about 830 are likely to remain open.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.