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Hoping to protect its top-secret operations by decentralizing its massive computer hubs, the National Security Agency will build a 1-million-square-foot data center at Utah’s Camp Williams.
The years-in-the-making project, which may cost billions over time, got a $181 million start last week when President Obama signed a war spending bill in which Congress agreed to pay for primary construction, power access and security infrastructure. The enormous building, which will have a footprint about three times the size of the Utah State Capitol building, will be constructed on a 200-acre site near the Utah National Guard facility’s runway.
Congressional records show that initial construction — which may begin this year — will include tens of millions in electrical work and utility construction, a $9.3 million vehicle inspection facility, and $6.8 million in perimeter security fencing. The budget also allots $6.5 million for the relocation of an existing access road, communications building and training area
The secretive agency released a statement Thursday acknowledging the selection of Camp Williams as a site for the new center and describing it as "a specialized facility that houses computer systems and supporting equipment."
The agency is set up to collect intelligence on foreign threats, but it has been accused of also participating in the unwarranted monitoring of the communications of U.S. citizens.
A similar center is being constructed in San Antonio, Texas, and NSA documents indicate that the agency is also expanding its existing intelligence collection facilities in North Yorkshire, England, and Fort Meade, Md. The agency has been seeking to decentralize its operations in an effort to protect assets and find areas with the capacity to satiate the energy appetites of its enormous computer caches.