Audit Report "Department of Energy Efforts to Manage Information Technology Resources in an Energy-Efficient and Environmentally Responsible Manner"

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation as critical to the Nation's economic vitality; its goal of reducing dependence on foreign energy sources; and, related efforts to improve the environment. The Act highlights the significant use of various forms of energy in the Federal sector and promotes efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Federal operations. One specific area of interest is the increasing demand for Federal sector computing resources and the corresponding increase in energy use, with both cost and environmental implications. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that, without aggressive conservation measures, ... continued below

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None May 1, 2009.

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation as critical to the Nation's economic vitality; its goal of reducing dependence on foreign energy sources; and, related efforts to improve the environment. The Act highlights the significant use of various forms of energy in the Federal sector and promotes efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Federal operations. One specific area of interest is the increasing demand for Federal sector computing resources and the corresponding increase in energy use, with both cost and environmental implications. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that, without aggressive conservation measures, data center energy consumption alone is expected to double over the next five years. In our report on Management of the Department's Data Centers at Contractor Sites (DOE/IG-0803, October 2008) we concluded that the Department of Energy had not always improved the efficiency of its contractor data centers even when such modifications were possible and practical. Despite its recognized energy conservation leadership role, the Department had not always taken advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption associated with its information technology resources. Nor, had it ensured that resources were managed in a way that minimized impact on the environment. In particular: (1) The seven Federal and contractor sites included in our review had not fully reduced energy consumption through implementation of power management settings on their desktop and laptop computers; and, as a consequence, spent $1.6 million more on energy costs than necessary in Fiscal Year 2008; (2) None of the sites reviewed had taken advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption, enhance cyber security, and reduce costs available through the use of techniques, such as 'thin-client computing' in their unclassified environments; and, (3) Sites had not always taken the necessary steps to reduce energy consumption and resource usage of their data centers, such as identifying and monitoring the amount of energy used at their facilities. We concluded that Headquarters programs offices (which are part of the Department of Energy's Common Operating Environment) as well as field sites had not developed and/or implemented policies and procedures necessary to ensure that information technology equipment and supporting infrastructure was operated in an energy-efficient manner and in a way that minimized impact on the environment. For example, although required by the Department, sites had not enabled computer equipment power management features designed to reduce energy consumption. In addition, officials within Headquarters programs and at the sites reviewed had not effectively monitored performance or taken steps to fully evaluate available reductions in energy usage at their facilities. Without improvements, the Department will not be able to take advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption and realize cost savings of nearly $23 million over the next five years at just the seven sites reviewed. We noted that the potential for reduced energy consumption at these sites alone was equivalent to the annual power requirements of over 2,400 homes or, alternatively, removing about 3,000 cars from the road each year. Many of the available energy reduction strategies, such as fully utilizing energy-efficient settings on the many computers used by the Department and its contractors, are 'low hanging fruit' in that they will provide immediate tangible energy savings at little or no cost. Others, such as a shift to thin-client computing, an environment that transfers the processing capabilities from an individual's desk to a shared server environment, will require some level of investment which can, based on available literature, be successfully recovered through reduced acquisition and support costs. In our judgment, given its highly visible leadership in energy issues, aggressive action should be taken to make the Department's information technology operations as energy efficient as possible so that it can serve as a role model for both the Federal and private sector. To its credit, the Department had increased the number of energy-efficient computers purchased in recent years. In addition, the Office of the Chief Information Officer implemented an automated computer shutdown program at Headquarters that was estimated to save up to nearly $400,000 per year. Furthermore, we found that certain sites had initiated actions to review a potential transition to unclassified thin-client computing; however, implementation had not yet been completed. These are positive steps, but additional action is required, and our report contains several recommendations to this end.

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  • Report No.: OAS-RA-09-03
  • Grant Number: None
  • DOI: 10.2172/958298 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 958298
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc934933

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • May 1, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 6, 2016, 7:09 p.m.

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None. Audit Report "Department of Energy Efforts to Manage Information Technology Resources in an Energy-Efficient and Environmentally Responsible Manner", report, May 1, 2009; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc934933/: accessed October 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.