The Department Of Energy's Woeful IT Energy Audit - InformationWeek
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6/9/2009
07:26 PM
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The Department Of Energy's Woeful IT Energy Audit

Energy is a big deal in the Obama administration. Billions of dollars in the economic stimulus package are earmarked for upgrading the power grid, paying for alternative energy credits, and developing clean energy sources. On Tuesday, a 'cash-for-clunkers' bill intended to get gas guzzlers off the road rolled through the House. But at the Department of Energy, it's been business as usual.

Energy is a big deal in the Obama administration. Billions of dollars in the economic stimulus package are earmarked for upgrading the power grid, paying for alternative energy credits, and developing clean energy sources. On Tuesday, a 'cash-for-clunkers' bill intended to get gas guzzlers off the road rolled through the House. But at the Department of Energy, it's been business as usual.An audit report released by Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman in late May puts the DOE in a hot seat warmed by always-on PCs and data centers where energy use goes unmonitored.

"Despite its recognized energy conservation leadership role," Friedman's introductory memorandum reads, "the Department had not always taken advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption associated with its information technology resources."

How has the DOE neglected opportunities to lower its own energy use? Let us count the ways:

  1. The seven Federal and contractor sites included in our review had not fully reduced energy consumption through implementation of power management settings on their desktop and laptop computers; and as a consequence, spent $1.6 million more on energy costs than necessary in Fiscal Year 2008;
  2. None of the sites reviewed had taken advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption, enhance cyber security, and reduce costs available through the use of techniques, such as "thin-client computing" in their unclassified environments; and,
  3. Sites had not always taken the necessary steps to reduce energy consumption and resource usage of their data centers, such as amount of energy used at their facilities.

Here's a howler from the report: "We found that even though the Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently developed the Data Center Energy Profiler -- an automated tool designed to identify numerous energy-saving opportunities within data centers -- at a cost of $465,000, none of the sites reviewed had utilized this tool."

I'm not sure what's going on at the DOE's IT operations, but this is the same agency that got hacked nearly 200 times in fiscal 2004. Four years on, there's still ample room for improvement.

See the full report here.

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