An upcoming update to the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance on its Data Center Optimization Initiative will include dialogue between agencies and the administration on what constitutes fair benchmarks, according to an outgoing senior IT executive in the Energy Department.
Jake Wooley, the IT sustainability program manager of DOE’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, said last week a draft copy of the guidance looks to “reduce and revise” some of the reporting requirements OMB established around the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) in 2016 and the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) in 2010.
“There’s going to be a little bit of refocus here,” Wooley said last Wednesday at Meritalk’s Data Center Brainstorm in Washington. “We had some real hard and strong goals to meet starting with the FDCCI. Working with OMB leadership within the DCOI during the last year-and-a-half has been very encouraging.”
While Wooley added the caveat the draft guidance remains subject to change, he said the updated DCOI guidance will focus on “optimizing the large, inefficient data centers.”
“What’s going to be left? Many of the small server rooms, closets, things like that, that can’t be necessarily consolidated, and the cost associated with optimizing is probably not cost-effective,” he said.
Under the current OMB guidance, agencies have to update their data center inventories quarterly, but Wooley said the upcoming guidance may only require agencies to update their inventories annually. OMB, he added, will also work more closely with agencies to set realistic consolidation goals.
Under previous guidance, Wooley said goals were not negotiated or discussed with the agencies prior to them being identified. Under FDCCI, for example, Wooley said DOE was slated to close 40 percent of its data centers.
“We didn’t even know how many data centers we had, much less what 40 percent represented and whether that made sense,” he said. “With this new guidance, we are looking that OMB will look to negotiate or work with each agency to determine what makes sense specific to our mission needs as to what we continue to set as closure and consolidation goals, and what we expect to achieve as far as any cost savings or avoidance.”
The draft guidance, Wooley said, will also redefine what does and doesn’t constitute a tiered data center.
“One of the things that we’re hearing is that we’re going modify this definition here, and that if you have any facility that is basically a separate room, then that’s going to be a tiered data center,” he said. “Bottom line here is that the focus that we expect on here will be on enterprise computing facilities – corporate systems, business systems, and things like that, and data centers that house those will be where optimization and consolidation refocus will be within the new DCOI.”
Bill Hunt, OMB’s cloud strategy lead, got a specific shout-out from Wooley as the official leading the charge on “very encouraging progress” on the new DCOI guidance.
“He has taken it to have good discussions with the different agencies – get our input and understand where we are,” Wooley said. “I believe this new guidance will reflect much of the feedback and input that OMB has received from the agencies as we look to move forward in the new DCOI. ”
OMB’s conversations with agencies echo Congress’s own recalibration of DCOI deadlines. Agencies were originally slated to meet their data center consolidation goals by the end of fiscal 2018, but the FITARA Enhancement Act, passed in November 2017, pushed the deadline back to Oct. 1, 2020.
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DOE earned an overall “C+” on the 2018 FITARA scorecard, earning its only “A” on the transparency and risk management category. Wooley maintained that FITARA is working, both for the agency and for the government at-large.
“Our scorecards as far as DCOI don’t necessarily reflect great progress, but I believe we have been making good progress,” he said. “Under [Chief Information Officer] Max Everett’s leadership, I expect that we’ll go even much further.”
Everett took office as CIO in August 2017, and only three months later, assured House lawmakers that DOE would overhaul how it manages and oversees technology.
“It helped that he got called up on the Hill … and had to take a little beating, but that helps,” Wooley said. “He took it seriously. We’ve got some good support from him, and that has made a major change in how the department of energy is moving forward with our DCOI program.”
Wooley announced he would retire at the end of this year, after more than 35 years of federal service John Dicus, the head of DoE’s Customer Support Division, will take over the IT sustainability program following Wooley’s departure.
OMB did not immediately provide comment on Monday.