DOE Muffs IT Energy Efficiency at Seven Sites: Department Audit

DOE Muffs IT Energy Efficiency at Seven Sites: Department Audit

An audit by U.S. Department Energy's Office of the Inspector General of seven facilities, including DOE headquarters, concluded that better management of IT resources could have saved at least $1.6 million in energy costs in fiscal year 2008.

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The recent report (PDF) also says that the department stands to lose about $23 million in the next five years for unnecessary energy, equipment and support costs for IT if improvements are not made.

The recommendations include simple measures such as switching off computer monitors at the end of the day, using the power management settings on desktops and laptops, shifting to use of shared servers when possible for unclassified work and better monitoring and management of data centers.

The audit was conducted between July 2008 and April 2009 at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Germantown, Maryland; the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Morgantown, West Virginia; the Oak Ridge Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and the Sandia National Laboratories and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Service Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As the department in charge of overseeing the government's energy efficiency programs, the DOE initiated the audit to gauge its performance based on its own operating guidelines. In doing so, the DOE Office of the Inspector General noted an earlier report on data center management that found, "the Department of Energy had not always improved the efficiency of its contractor data centers even when such modifications were possible and practical. "

Here's what the recent audit concluded:

"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."

According to the report, management at the facilities generally concurred with the findings and recommendations and said it would act on them.

But National Energy Technology Laboratory officials disagreed with the audit's contention that the site could have used more energy efficient cooling equipment at its data center, the report said. NETL management also said "it was concerned that our estimated cost savings may be overstated," the report said.

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