The federal government provided more details Wednesday, July 20, about its ongoing IT consolidation by releasing a list of 373 data centers planned for closure by the end of 2012.

The closures, part of a presidential campaign to cut wasteful spending, will reduce floor space area equivalent to 14 football fields, federal CIO Vivek Kundra said during a media conference call Wednesday afternoon.

An interagency task force has been working to identify data centers that could be closed. The committee has been “action-oriented” Kundra said, “and what we didn’t want to do was put together yet another consulting report and admire the problem.”

“The great news was that by bringing together all the agencies, there is this ‘race to the top’ where agencies became competitive over how they were going to shut down infrastructure they didn’t need, and reinvest those dollars, where they could, on improving customer service.”

The planned closures include the large — a 195,000-square-foot Department of Homeland Security building — and the small, such as a 1,000-square foot Department of Agriculture facility. The impacted facilities are a mix of government-run data centers and those operated by contractors.

The Defense Department is closing the most facilities, with 113 scheduled for shutdown. Some of these locations aren’t being made public for national security reasons. The Department of Agriculture will close 44 data centers, and the Department of Justice has identified 36 for closure.

Eighty-one federal data centers have been closed so far in 2011, with 195 in total set to be turned off by the end of the year.

“This puts us ahead of schedule in meeting the president’s directive to shut down 800 data centers by the end of 2015, a move that we expect to save upward of $3 billion dollars in savings for American taxpayers,” said Stephanie Cutter, deputy senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Kundra said much of the savings would be realized through less power consumption. He gave no details or figures on jobs that might be lost due to the downsizing.

The federal CIO said he sent a memo to agencies Wednesday directing them to prepare detailed plans on how they will achieve data center consolidation, the locations they plan to close by 2015 and the projected savings that will result. Each agency’s plan will be posted online.

The number of federal data centers has increased significantly during the past decade. In 1998, there were 432 data centers used by the federal government. This year, there were more than 2,000.

Many of them haven’t been running at full capacity. The average utilization rate of the computing power in the federal government’s date centers is 27 percent, and storage capacity utilization is under 40 percent, according to Kundra. “This is unacceptable in any times, but especially when we’re talking about a tough budgetary environment,” he said.

A list of the 373 data centers scheduled for closure is available on Data.gov at http://explore.data.gov/Federal-Government-Finances-and-Employment/Federal-Data-Center-Consolidation-Initiative-FDCCI/d5wm-4c37

A U.S. map that plots the closure is also available at http://explore.data.gov/Federal-Government-Finances-and-Employment/Data-Center-Closure-Map/k7pk-kwsc

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor