The Importance of IT Audits

Ann All
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How Private-Sector Best Practices Can Save Taxpayer Money.

Consolidating data centers and other IT infrastructure was one of several suggestions offered by members of the Technology CEO Council to help the federal government save $1 trillion over the next decade. The council said the feds could shave up to 30 percent off the annual $76 billion expenditure to maintain IT assets by "reducing IT overhead, consolidating data centers, eliminating redundant networks and standardizing applications."


The council's savings estimate was based on the belief that the federal government had about 1,000 data centers. Yet that number is far higher, reports An eight-month audit revealed the government is operating nearly 2,100 data centers. Three agencies, the Department of Defense, Department of State and Department of Interior, account for two-thirds of all government data centers. Many agencies, even some with what I would assume are pretty extensive computing requirements, get by with far less. NASA has 79, compared to the DOD's 772. notes the survey methodology may have boosted the numbers, since it defines a data center as any room over 500 square feet used for data processing. Hopefully those smaller, server-cluttered rooms will be among the first to go in a consolidation effort. They are almost always inefficient and often insecure.


Audits shed needed light on sloppy asset-management practices, which is why organizations need to perform them regularly. They're almost certain to find assets that can be reduced or retired. I discussed the importance of regular audits in a recent post in which I urged organizations not to treat their IT assets like junk food.


I'll share again one of the ideas that I especially liked from that post. On his The Hot Aisle blog, Steve O'Donnell suggests all IT systems should have two owners, one from business and one from IT. Cataloguing IT systems and switching off those that don't have owners of either type will reduce costs and improve reliability.

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