Federal IT Budget: Breaking The Legacy Cycle

Carlos OliveiraApplication ModernizationLeave a Comment

Federal IT Budget

2016 has been a big year for cybersecurity. IT departments in nearly every industry around the world are scrambling to keep up with the latest cyber threats, and the US federal government is beginning to do the same.

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget proposal raised federal IT spending up to $89.9 billion and allocated $38.55 billion for defense-related IT spending. While the growth in spending is quite a bit lower than the average annual growth during Bush’s administration, according to budget documents, that is “due in part to the administration’s achievements in improving the efficiency of how funds are spent on IT.”

However, some estimates believe that nearly three-quarters of the budget spent by the federal government on information technology goes toward operating and maintaining outdated legacy systems in order to keep them running. This leaves merely one-quarter of the total federal IT budget to be invested into the development of new systems.

Congress took notice, and in an attempt to address this very serious issue, the Modernizing Government Technology Act was introduced to — and passed in— the House of Representatives last month. The act also stands a chance of passing the Senate this month, as well.

Whether the act passes the Senate, a number of federal agencies will have to face the challenge of replacing their tragically outdated legacy systems and some are worse off than others. Recently released research by the International Data Corporation (IDC) highlights just how pervasive the problem has become. The report says that in the last eight years, “the amount of money spent on maintaining older systems has crept steadily upward.”

A few data points exhibit how extensive this issue has become for our federal government. This list highlights the federal organizations spending the most on maintaining their existing systems:

– Army Corps of Engineers – 96 percent of its $459.8 million budget
– Nuclear Regulatory Commission – 93 percent of its $156.5 million budget
– Agriculture Department –  90 percent of its $3.2 billion budget
– Veteran’s Administration –  88 percent of its $4.4 billion budget

As the report notes, “this legacy expense creep is an important issue, since supporting new development is very important not only to help agencies work to transition toward cheaper commodity IT, but also to help them take advantage of advances related to the Internet of things, flexible mobile applications and location-aware IT solutions.”

Unfortunately, it seems that these kind of legacy system spending totals will require much more than legislation to be fixed. While the Modernizing Government Technology Act could provide the necessary funds, and as the new fiscal year — under a new president — is beginning soon, funding remains in limbo.

While it is apparent that a severe problem exists, how long will it take the federal government to address?

In the end, it is crucial that federal IT systems are modernized in order to reduce the threat posed to cybersecurity and develop new, more agile frameworks that protect sensitive information better. Security breaches have already added billions of dollars to the sizable federal IT budget, proving they can be expensive as well as dangerous.

Government agencies don’t have to wait for funding to become available to address this issue, though. Morphis’ innovative technology platform has driven the low-risk, low-cost, expedient delivery of modernized applications for several years. Take a look at our Miami-Dade County Case Study for an example of how we were able to modernize over 20 applications and associated databases for the county’s IT department.

Contact us to modernize your outdated IT systems and software, and make sure your sensitive data is safe.

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