Staff reductions, data-center consolidation, and cutting back on office space are aspects of a five-year plan to streamline operations.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

December 10, 2010

3 Min Read

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

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Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

The Department of Interior expects to save $500 million through a five-year plan to modernize and consolidate its IT operations.

The move will not come without some costs -- staff reductions are part of the plan, although the department will try to repurpose employees rather than cut their positions outright, it said.

The department also plans to cut back on the office space it rents and streamline administration. In terms of the latter, the department will name a single CIO instead of the multiple CIOs it has in place now.

The department does have one main CIO -- Bernard Mazer, who replaced Sanjeev Bhagowalia when he left the department in May to lead a new innovative technology office at the General Services Administration. However, different bureaus and offices within the Interior Department also have CIOs, making for management inefficiencies.

On the technology side, the department plans reductions in IT infrastructure and will realign the resources that remain for more efficiency and to provide better service to customers, it said. Specifically, it plans to consolidate the 210 data centers it now has to 115 by 2015.

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

Federal agencies have been taking steps to make their IT departments run more efficiently and cost-effectively by consolidating data centers, using cloud technologies, and other efforts through a mandate from U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is overseeing.

On Thursday Kundra outlined a 25-point execution plan for the IT reform already in motion. In a press conference, he praised Department of Interior as one the agencies following one of the White House recommendations for reform -- to adopt lightweight technologies -- as part of the department's data-center consolidation strategy.

"We want to recognize the great leadership Interior is providing," he said.

Indeed, the department does seem to be taking an innovative approach to the changes it's making to IT operations, at least in terms of funding. The department said it plans to self-fund consolidation by redirecting savings from initial stages of the plan to the later stages, which will eliminate the need for any external funding for its effort.

The department expects cost savings of $100 million per year in the five years following consolidation, between 2016 and 2020. Once operational and data-center consolidation is complete, officials will then direct savings to IT tasks, including the modernization of legacy applications, some of which are decades old, the department said.

Other modernization efforts will include more technology standardization, adopting common enterprise services, and simplifying business processes across common lines of business, the department said. Savings also will be used to address security needs and radio communications.

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