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A U.S. Senate committee passed a bill approving $43 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in fiscal year 2010, including funds for consolidating the department's 24 legacy data centers into two.

The Senate Appropriations Committee did not provide the specific amount of funding allocated for the project and the bill will next go in front of the full Senate for approval.

The committee's statement said allocation for the consolidation project was "significant." The appropriation comes after the committee had expressed concern about an April report by the DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner who said the department was not ready to go ahead with the data center migration project. In an earlier version of its recommendations the committee refused to continue funding the project, instead recommending that funds be allocated to addressing Skinner's concerns.

Committee representatives could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

In his report, the Inspector General said that the department's IT facilities had an inadequate disaster recovery program. "Specifically, additional telecommunications circuits, redundant equipment and sufficient computer room floor space are necessary to ensure that these two data centers can be backup sites for each other," Skinner wrote.

The Office of the Inspector General reported general deficiencies in the department's disaster recovery planning for information systems in 2005.

In response, the department established the two new data centers that will be left standing if and when the consolidation project reaches completion.

The Inspector General recommended in 2006 that the two facilities have an "active-active" processing capability, backing each other up.

Computer Sciences Corporation won the contract to run the first of the two new data centers, called DC1. The multi-year contract was not to exceed $391 million. DC1, also called the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, is located at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

While the federal government owns DC1, DC2 is owned and operated by HP owned Electronic Data Systems, whose multi-year contract is not to exceed $820 million.

Skinner reported that there was inadequate connectivity between DC1 and DC2 to back each other up. The report exemplified insufficient redundancy by pointing out that DC1 power came from one sub-station and was routed through one switch room, creating a single point of failure for the entire facility. Another such point of failure was the DC1 telecommunications closet through which all of the data center's telecommunications circuts were routed.