Feds closing down Bay Area data centers

Two federal data centers in the Bay Area have been shut down and a third will be shuttered next year as part of an Obama Administration’s “Campaign to Cut Waste.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget announced today that it plans to shut down a total of 373 such data centers across the nation by the end of 2012, part of the President’s goal of shutting down 800 by 2015 to save taxpayers more than $3 billion.

“Duplication, waste, and inefficiency are never acceptable, but it is especially intolerable in these challenging budgetary times,” Jeffrey Zients, Federal Chief Performance Officer and OMB’s Deputy Director for Management, said in a news release. “As part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, President Obama has directed his Administration to aggressively root out misspent tax dollars in agencies across the government to ensure we are spending tax dollars wisely.”

The data centers essentially are computer server sites – often with backup power supplies, air conditioning, fire suppression systems and special security – that could be as big as a building or as small as a room, the OMB said. Their number has rocketed since 1998 from 432 to more than 2,000, often creating redundancies and creating far more infrastructure than the government needs; they’ve used only about 27 percent of their collective computing power, even as taxpayers shell out for costs such as electricity use that can be 200 times that of a standard office.

Closing some of them saves money and improves data security, OMB says.

A Justice Department data center in San Francisco and a National Aeronautics and Space Administration data center at Moffett Field near Mountain View already have been shut down in the past year and a half; another NASA site at Moffett Field will be closed in 2012.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.