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Government United States IT

Feds Discover 1,000 More Government Data Centers 246

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-keep-them-in-my-pocket dept.
1sockchuck writes "The US government has 2,094 data centers, nearly 1,000 more than previous estimates, according to an updated inventory by federal agencies. The finding underscores the scope of the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to streamline the government's IT infrastructure in a massive data center consolidation."
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Feds Discover 1,000 More Government Data Centers

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  • Whats a datacenter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:03AM (#33882732)

    Whats a datacenter?

    As a fedgov employee (US Army) in the early 90s I had two big green unisys btos machines each with three terminals running a database Admittedly no outside world connection except 110V AC but the terminal things did have at least a hundred feet of cable. For the purposes of this report, would by old office be defined as a "datacenter"?

  • by gumbi west (610122) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:23AM (#33882972) Journal

    The President can do a lot, he just has to sick someone else on the topic like a bull dog. He also has to be really picky about his battles.

    I can think of many examples from situations I know of.

    Exmaples:

    • under Bush, the administration did manage to decrease the number of payroll offices substantially and keep (mainly) the the good ones, and decreased the travel authorization/reimbursement IT systems to the less crappy ones (btw private industry guys, is there such a thing as a good travel authorization/reimbursement system?).
    • Clinton decreased the number of senior executives (people making about $140,000 in DC) substantially while increasing the number of minority senior executives.
    • Clinton, with Gore's help, increased the number of contractors in the civilian services. He did this not by forcing contracting on the government agencies, but by making a process and forcing them to look at some of their employees every year.
    • Bush, with Rumsfeld's help, increased the number of contractors in the military. Not sure how this worked, it might have all been from the top.

    You have to realize, the US government is too large to control from DC. It works best when there is central minimum requirements that vary with the task at hand and how you meet them is left up to some local manager.

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:25AM (#33882992)

    Yes. But onne would expect that the career bureaucrats would take some pride in doing the best job that they can. The whole "We've been doing it this way for decades and when you're gone in 4 years, we'll still will be" is pure bullshit. We need some way to motivate them to pursue continuous process improvement. Then, the proper function of the administration is to watch over the operations and make policy decisions. Not nit-pick the data center architecture. On the other hand, when the administration calls the IT folks in to report on why they have 2000 data centers, they should be able to justify their design decision. Or have an ongoing program in place to bring the system into line with that design. Then, all the administration has to do is bless the plan and let them carry on.

    Political appointees can't expect to micro-manage their departments. They need to delegate that to the long timers. What they need to do is to keep the fire lit under them. And if the carrot of pride in a job well done isn't motivation enough, then the stick of outsourcing it all to private industry and tossing the whole bunch out on their ass needs to be a valid option.

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:25AM (#33882996)

    And, to be honest, its one reason I didn't vote for him. As soon as I understood that he had no idea how the government actually works, I knew the only thing that was going to happen was that he was going to simply add to the government. Not because he's some sort of big government liberal, but because adding to the government is all that the bureaucracy lets you do without specialized knowledge of how the bureaucracy works.

    The Tea Party people really have no chance either. Their only value in my mind is that they will gridlock the addition of more crap to the government. I have more sympathy with their aims, but I know full well that outsiders have no chance at meaningful change unless it is accomplished via tearing down the whole edifice.

    The real challenge is not throwing the bums out or creating "Change", its finding knowledgeable insiders who know how to get things done in the bureaucracy. People who can ease out the holdouts from their fiefdoms, who can soothe the Civil Service unions, and who can gain the trust of multiple administrations so that they have the ability to actually do something worth doing. I almost think that as soon as the President wins an election, he or she needs to go and campaign at every federal office building and get those people on his side.

  • Re:Big company (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mtmra70 (964928) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:35AM (#33883112)

    Your "couple of servers" probably doesn't meet the criteria for counting in this case:

    I work at a F100 company and we have two data centers which are larger than 500sq/ft and house at least 100 physical boxes and a couple SANs each, yet the company/IT doesn't count them as part of their normal data center strategy. If you asked global IT if we had data centers at our site, they would say "nope".

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:51AM (#33883360)

    So fire them. Hire someone that will do as you say. CEO's do it in the real world every single day. And if there are laws in your way, get those changed first. Failing that, line-item-veto any spending for their salaries and wait for them to quit. Failing even that, use your executive ability to set their schedules to nil, or require them to report to Alaska, etc.

    It really isn't that hard.

    People made this same argument towards Ron Paul's campaign promises, and they failed to see the same simplicity of it. There are literally THRONGS of people waiting to get that paycheck the cushy government jobs offer. Use some turnover to get the desired result, but failing that use the powers of scheduling and compensation to achieve the same result. You know, those "executive" powers?

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @11:01AM (#33883468)

    I should have saved my earlier post for you, because perhaps you'll be able to explain it to me...

    Let's take a concrete example or three. I'll propose some executive solutions to the problems, and you tell me why it won't work:

    1) End the wars. President uses Commander-in-Chief authority to redeploy every single unit, or just the desired units, to the United States, effective immediately. Anyone not obeying the order will be brought up for court martial. Failing that, simply veto any spending bills until they run out of money.

    2) End "Department of X". Dismiss and/or reassign every appointee, refuse to nominate any new candidates. Failing that, set their home office in ANWAR and refuse to reimburse any mileage, due to the economy, of course.

    3) Eliminate the Deficit. Veto, veto, veto. Line-item-veto, even. Signing statements stating that funding starts out at zero dollars this year and increases to the figures on the bill one year after the bill is no longer valid, or one year after the Union no longer exists, which ever comes last. Failing that, refuse to even read any more bills until you get what you want on your desk.

    Who would have the power to stop any of this? The next President, maybe, but that's about it. There's nothing in the Constitution that says the commander has to do any of these things, and no one has the power to force any of it to happen either. So long as the President made his intentions entirely clear to the people, and as long as they supported his behavior, I imagine that no one would have the political will to oppose it either.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @11:18AM (#33883646)
    Reagan was only able to do that because the air traffic controllers actually broke a federal law by striking. When they refused his order to return to work, they foolishly made themselves fair game for immediate firing, bypassing all normal federal employee protections.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @11:23AM (#33883688)
    The main reason most of those things cannot be done is because voters don't want them to be done.

    Voters do not want a sudden, humiliating withdrawl from Afghanistan that would be an admission of defeat. (Others would argue saving face isn't worth sacrificing lives, but I digress...)

    Voters do not want to balance the budget. What they want is to pay no taxes when young, and receive full benefits when old. And who they vote for is whoever promises to do that.

    It's just human nature. Almost every person thinks THEY are the one doing more than their fair share, and what they want is for everybody else to start bucking up and being more like them. Just like a big marriage among 300,000,000 people.

  • Re:Big company (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @11:59AM (#33884110) Homepage

    Off course, there's always the problem that when you use the centrally managed resources, they're practically worthless. I work in a similar environment and doing everything ourselves is ~10x cheaper and much more flexible. Even outsourcing it to a commercial entity would be cheaper. 1TB of data does not need to cost $10k/year, (paid) e-mail boxes should not be limited to 250MB and you really don't need 8 Exchange admins to manage 8 Exchange servers (maybe you do, I have only worked with Postfix). The downside is off course that you'll need to find a decent sysadmin every time and can't get away with somebody with a 6 month first line support stint.

  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:05PM (#33884200)

    End the wars. President uses Commander-in-Chief authority to redeploy every single unit, or just the desired units, to the United States, effective immediately. Anyone not obeying the order will be brought up for court martial. Failing that, simply veto any spending bills until they run out of money

    As we've seen with Obama's attempt to reduce commitments in Afghanistan, against the will of the generals, it's practically impossible for a president to reduce troop deployments without the support of the generals, particularly as long as the party in opposition supports an open-ended commitment. The generals simply leak the content of their meetings to the war party, and leak negative stories about the policy decisions to the press, and work to eliminate and marginalize people who offer solutions that reduce commitments beneath what the generals think "will accomplish the mission." It would be easy for Obama to end the war at the cost of his presidency, of course, but why bother when your replacement will be an ultra-hawk Republican who will simply re-escalate? That's really the issue, there's a lot of competition for people to prove themselves the most belligerent, because there really isn't much of a consensus for ending the war among conservatives or liberals.

    2) End "Department of X". Dismiss and/or reassign every appointee, refuse to nominate any new candidates. Failing that, set their home office in ANWAR and refuse to reimburse any mileage, due to the economy, of course.

    All cabinet-level departments are created by acts of congress; a president cannot abrogate an act of congress. A failure to appoint a head will cause the civil-service interim appointee to run the department. Congress will attempt the fund the department through omnibus legislation.

    3) Eliminate the Deficit. Veto, veto, veto. Line-item-veto, even. Signing statements stating that funding starts out at zero dollars this year and increases to the figures on the bill one year after the bill is no longer valid, or one year after the Union no longer exists, which ever comes last. Failing that, refuse to even read any more bills until you get what you want on your desk.

    The President of the US has no line-item veto, because it's unconstitutional. The president has no right to dictate how the US spends its money, this is the responsibility of the House of Representatives. There is no evidence that people really want to eliminate the deficit. The deficit is a fundamentally popular institution and people would never vote someone out of office for increasing it. And deficit reformers, instead of actually trying to win the argument on the merits and win elections, propose ever more dictatorial powers for their great white hope, that one man who will, Cincinnatus-like, ride to the rescue of America, use untrammeled king-like authority to set the nation straight, and then disappear. The requirement that a president either affirm or veto bills in full is a fundamental check on executive power.

    You call for dictatorship, if only to deal with the immediate crisis, but that's how it always starts... Congress is the institution in our system that prevents dictatorship. If you take powers away from congress and hand them to the president, you break the system.

    The problem is that people don't actually vote for senators and representatives they respect any more, people who can -- they just vote for the person who has the highest propensity for giving them what they ask for.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @02:18PM (#33886264)

    So fire them. Hire someone that will do as you say.

    Not always possible. Lots of federal employees are unionized. Lots more of them don't actually report to the president, even indirectly. Even those that do are much harder to hire/fire than you suppose and most really important jobs actually require Congressional approval. We limit the President's power for very good reasons and while this has some undesirable side effects, I'm not about to vote to give anyone unlimited power over staffing in the federal government.

    CEO's do it in the real world every single day.

    The president isn't a CEO and the two jobs bear little resemblance to one another. Seriously, the two jobs are nothing alike.

    And if there are laws in your way, get those changed first.

    Only Congress can change laws. The president can influence, suggest, cajole and threaten but it's up to Congress to actually change the laws.

    Failing that, line-item-veto any spending for their salaries and wait for them to quit.

    The President of the US does not have a line item veto. President Clinton briefly held that power but it was declared unconstitutional in 1998 for violating the Presentment Clause [wikipedia.org].

    Failing even that, use your executive ability to set their schedules to nil, or require them to report to Alaska, etc.

    Again, lots of people don't report to the president and his ability to hire/fire is far more limited than you seem to suppose. Even if he fires someone, many jobs require approval from Congress to fill and that is not something any president wants to try to get more than necessary. Sometimes the president does direct those who report to him to de-fund programs and use his executive authority to circumvent the law and the federal bureaucracy but the president is just one man and has some (thank $diety) severe limits on his power and is badly outnumbered.

    It really isn't that hard.

    Bullshit. If it was easy it would have already been done. People in power will use any powers they have. If it were so easy to fire people and otherwise shape the federal bureaucracy it would be done.

    People made this same argument towards Ron Paul's campaign promises, and they failed to see the same simplicity of it.

    No they didn't. The world is a more complex place than Ron Paul makes it out to be and most people dismissed his rhetoric as populist nonsense. Perhaps he appeals to you but most people think of him as a fringe weirdo, myself included.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @02:44PM (#33886620)

    A) New people are more likely to do as they're told.

    Ha! Have you ever actually managed anyone? I have and what you just said is complete nonsense.

    There's zero reason the Federal government needs to employ millions of people

    Perhaps but the fact is that they do employ that many people and that isn't likely to change.

    Congress has no Constitutional authority over how the executive branch is structured. E.g. 'czars'.

    Congress has immense formal and informal power over how the executive branch is structured and how it operates. From the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause: "...make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." Congress has considerable power of oversight [wikipedia.org] over the executive branch. Furthermore, Congress can pass laws to override executive branch decisions, expand or reduce the jurisdiction and regulatory authority of federal agencies, restrict or expand funding, and more.

  • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:14PM (#33887768) Homepage Journal

    What President Obama failed to appreciate is all the numb nuts out there that are voting specifically for the candidate that's going to cause the most damage to the federal government.

    What the president failed to appreciate is the Constitution.

    Never mind that the original tea party had precisely zip to do with taxation, and everything to do with ditching the competitors product so that they wouldn't have any competition.

    Both factions were prominent: those who opposed taxation without representation, and merchants who resented the crown's favoritism of the East India tea company.

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