4 Reasons Why Federal Agencies Hang on to Old Technology

According to federal CIO Tony Scott, the U.S. government spends 76% of its $88 billion IT budget on operating and maintaining out-of-date technologies – that’s three times what is spent on modern systems. And while the proposed Modernizing Government Technology Act seeks to change all that with a centralized fund that agencies can apply for, in the meantime, aside from money, why are federal agencies so resistant to switching out old IT?

The truth lies somewhere between a world view that sees IT as a cost center running mission-critical systems and that of future-ready agencies who view IT as an enabler of value creation – faster, leaner, less expensive processes, improved service delivery, etc. That’s according to the folks at MeriTalk who challenge federal IT pros to ask themselves what their agency view of IT is. Once you start peeling back that onion, MeriTalk suggests four reasons why agencies struggle to let old technology go:

1. Fear of change/disruption – No surprises here. Change is hard. It comes with risk, something the government is reticent about, especially when tax payer’s money is on the line. A joint study by Censeo Consulting Group and Public Spend Forum found that 72% of respondents agree that the penalty for failure in IT modernization projects is greater than the reward for success.But as MeriTalk states: “the reward can be worth it.” Closing old data centers can save up to $8 billion through 2019, reports

2. Lack of budget/resources (or the perception of) – MeriTalk argues that the view of IT as a cost-center essentially prohibits investment. But once IT becomes a value-creation engine, with efficiency and agility – modernization will pay for itself.

3. Lack of empowerment – Although agency leaders understand the potential of digital transformation, many perceive that their CIOs aren’t preparing their organization for that future. Today’s CIO must embrace change and communicate and drive that cultural shift across the organization.

4. The challenge of selling change – IT leaders have some hard selling to do when it comes to driving IT modernization. They need to understand and communicate both the business and mission benefits as well as the technical ones in order to “drive agreement on a mission and vision for IT infrastructure.” Much of this information is provided by industry in the form of events, resources, case studies, and blogs.

Is your agency future-ready or is it still clinging to old technology, if so why? Leave a comment below.