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DHS Lags On Data Center Consolidation

Poor management is hindering the plan to narrow computing resources down to two Homeland Security data centers by 2014.
Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
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Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
Management shortcomings are responsible for the slow progress of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) data center consolidation plans, according to an audit.

Despite some initial progress, the DHS is not as far along as it should be on meeting the objectives of its consolidation efforts, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

In an interview last month, DHS CIO Richard Spires -- who is in charge not only of his department's consolidation plan, but also for the government-wide Obama-administration mandate to consolidate data centers -- said that the DHS is further along in its consolidation plans than most other agencies.

But the report tells some of the other side of the story. The OIG found that the DHS is behind on some key steps of its consolidation plan, specifically when it comes to management of it.

The agency has yet to develop a complete inventory of data centers and their associated systems, software, and hardware, nor has it developed consolidated data center floor plans to use as a guide for its progress.

The DHS also needs to update its strategic plan for consolidation to add details about how it will decommission legacy centers and conform to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) overall consolidation efforts, according to the report.

The report does note some initial progress the DHS has made, corroborating some of what Spires highlighted in the interview with InformationWeek.

So far, the DHS has established an internal team, called the Data Center Consolidation Division, to oversee the plan as well as set up two enterprise data centers to which it's migrating computing resources, according to the report. The agency has successfully closed six of its 24 data centers, Spires said last month, with a goal toward using only the two new ones by 2014.

The agency also has awarded initial contracts for operating the two centers, according to the report. Spires said that eventually the DHS will build out a new operations center for the data centers, but that plan is still in its early stages.

The OIG recommends that the DHS take several steps to hasten its consolidation progress, including undertaking the discovery and validation it needs to accurately perform inventory on data center resources.

The agency also should review other agencies' consolidation efforts as well as general best practices to develop a more comprehensive plan, according to the report.