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Bipartisanship Could Save Billions By Consolidating Data Centers

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Here’s something you don’t hear every day: Republicans and Democrats are working together in Washington to save billions of dollars.

Virginia is sometimes known as the Silicon Valley of the East, a place where data centers have seen an explosive growth in the last decade.  In some ways, though, that growth was counterproductive because it seemed like every federal agency was constructing its own or leasing one. That’s why Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly introduced legislation to consolidate all those data centers.

“We built on the federal data center consolidation effort to push agencies to realize savings, big savings, from this low-hanging fruit,” Connolly said from the floor of the House of Represenatatives.

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California says saving money is something both parties can agree on. “When I first talked to Mr. Connolly, he was best known for wanting to consolidate processing centers — consolidate these server farms that had proliferated," Issa said. "The number he had at the time turned out to be, although exorbitant, less than a quarter of the number we eventually found.”

Back in 2009, the federal government estimated it had about 1,100 data centers. As it turned out, there were actually about 12,000 of them, all sucking up billions of dollars of electricity alone. The estimated savings for consolidating all those data centers stands at  $3.3 billion.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.