Three senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the security of US government data centers.
The Federal Data Center Enhancement Act of 2022 was introduced by Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Gary Peters, D-Mich.
It is planned to follow on from the Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative, which expires at the end of Fiscal 2022 unless its authorization is renewed. But, the senators argue, it is time to shift the focus from consolidating government data centers to securing them.
It currently does not appear to have a companion bill in the House.
The act would instruct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to coordinate a government-wide effort to develop strong minimum requirements for federal data centers related to cyber intrusions, data center availability, mission-critical uptime, and resilience against physical attacks, wildfires, and other natural disasters.
Those minimum requirements would cover new data center contracts of government developments. The act was welcomed by Switch inc., which operates facilities with high uptime and resilience.
“The Federal Data Center Enhancement Act recognizes that federal government data centers should meet high standards for resiliency, sustainability, and availability,” said Betsy Fretwell, EVP for strategy at Switch.
“Switch takes pride in building the world’s most advanced, secure, and sustainable data centers and applauds Senator Rosen’s work to reduce the unnecessary risk of taxpayers losing access to important data provided by the federal government due to substandard data centers.”
Senator Rosen, of Switch's home state of Nevada, said: “With the increasing threat of cyberattacks and natural disasters, we must ensure the integrity of our nation’s critical information by protecting data centers like Switch in Las Vegas."
Switch spends large sums on political donations in Nevada, but does not appear to have directly donated to Rosen. It has, however, given money to PACs that then supported her and her allies (it has also funded Republican PACs in the state).
Senator Cornyn said: “The sensitive information stored on federal systems cannot be left open to vulnerabilities like cyberattacks or natural disasters.
“This legislation would help secure federal data and encourage optimization, which will save taxpayer dollars and protect Americans who entrust their information to the federal government.”
Senator Gary Peters is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Chairman. He noted that “the federal government is responsible for storing considerable amounts of sensitive and personal information… We must ensure this data is stored securely and used in a way that does not violate civil rights and liberties."
“With the increasing threat of cyberattacks and natural disasters, we must ensure the integrity of our nation’s critical information by protecting data centers like Switch in Las Vegas,” said Senator Rosen.
“This bipartisan bill will enact a new set of security and resiliency standards to keep our data safe.”
The act also calls for prioritizing the public cloud over custom data center deployments.