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Definition of Significant Expansion


On August 1, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued memorandum M-16-19 establishing the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) and designating General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) as the managing partner of the Federal Government’s data center line of business and data center shared services.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-16-19, bullet #9 on page 2, reads: “The General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) will coordinate with OMB to define thresholds for what constitutes significant expansion within 60 days of publication of this memorandum.”

Beginning 180 days after issuance of this memo, agencies may not budget any funds or resources toward initiating a new data center or significantly expanding an existing data center without approval from OMB. To request approval, agencies must submit a written justification that includes an analysis of alternatives and an explanation of the net reduction in the agency’s inventory that will be facilitated by the new or expanded data center.

Significant Expansion Explained

Pursuant to fulfilling the federal CIO’s directive for OGP and OMB to define ‘significant’ threshold for data center expansion, the Integrated Data Collection’s metric for Gross Floor Area (GFA) for Q1 for each of 2014, 2015, and 2016 were aggregated at the Government-wide (Agency), Bureau (Sub-Agency or Component), and Data Center levels. OGP’s quantitative assessment indicated that expansion greater than one standard deviation from the mean is considered statistically significant.

Therefore, data center expansion meets the ‘significant’ threshold if it exceeds 18% of GFA or exceeds 660 square feet, which would necessitate an OMB approval.

Recommended indicators are based on finding the statistically significant threshold in the IDC data trends reported to OMB. For additional information regarding the methodology and calculations please contact the GSA DCOI Managing Partner program management office at

Download a copy of the full-length OGP Significant Expansion Definition White Paper, including methodology.