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Inspectors Blast DOE for Poor IT Energy Efficiency

doe-logo2The Department of Energy could learn a lot by paying attention to its own advice and upgrading its IT operations to be more efficient, according to a recent audit of DOE’s IT resources.

The seven federal and contractor sites that were audited had not fully implemented power management settings on desktops and laptops, and in 2008 those seven sites unnecessarily spent $1.6 million in energy costs.

None of the aforementioned sites had implemented measures to reduce energy consumption or reduce costs through “thin-client computing.”

Sites also were not undertaking the bedrock steps to first begin reducing energy consumption in the data centers. Namely, the data centers were not identifying and monitoring the amount of energy used at the facilities.

If proper steps are taken, up to $23 million could be saved over the next five years at the seven sites alone, the audit concluded.

“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,” the audit stated.

On the positive side, DOE has been increasing the number of energy efficient computer purchases. Additionally, an automated computer shutdown program at the headquarters building is producing savings of $400,000 annually.

The audit, conducted July 2008 and April 2009, included the following facilities:

  • DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Germantown, Md.
  • the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, and Morgantown, W.V.
  • the Oak Ridge Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  • the Sandia National Laboratories and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Service Center, Albuquerque, N.M

The audit contended that the National Energy Technology Laboratory could have employed more energy efficient cooling equipment at its data center, a point with with NETL officials disagreed.

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