Tackling Legacies Head-On: Tech Modernization Bill Could Bring Long-Awaited Federal Systems Overhaul

For the U.S. government, the time is overdue for an IT upgrade.

Fortunately, elected leaders recognize this, as momentum is building for what’s called the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2016. The act would establish a capital fund that agencies would borrow from, to support “technology related activities, to improve information technology, to enhance cybersecurity across the Federal Government,” according to language in a working version of the bill.

A centralized authority within the Treasury Department would oversee the fund, which could amount to $3.1 billion, according to published estimates. Agencies would present their best business cases for modernization initiatives in applying for funding on an incremental basis. Over time, they’d have to demonstrate metrics-based results to continue receiving the financing, which they’d be obligated to pay back at some point.

Lawmakers are working out the finer details, with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee now reviewing a version of the bill. That said, here at Acendre, we’re very encouraged by any forward movement – or even related discussion – which acknowledges the many issues created by what’s now considered a dreaded “L” word: legacy systems.

Agency users have had to put up with these old clunkers for far too long. In fact, more than seven of ten federal IT decision-makers say their agency runs important applications on outdated systems, according to a recent survey from Dell. Other findings from the survey reveal additional, troubling developments:

  • More than one-half of federal IT decision-makers indicate that their agency runs computer operating systems which have exceeded their official end-of-life.
  • 53 percent said their agency uses software or operating systems that are no longer supported by the vendor.
  • 42 percent are concerned about the potential for cybersecurity threats as a result of their legacies.
  • 46 percent said their IT infrastructure is in need of modernization or replacement, and 39 percent said the same about their file storage/collaboration tools.

Clearly, legacies are causing problems that federal leadership shouldn’t allow to linger. Agency users – and taxpayers – deserve better.

In our interactions with government customers overseeing talent management, for example, we see first-hand how legacies limit HR teams from reaching their potential. Here are just a few of the difficulties they encounter due to outdated tech:

  • The legacies cannot adopt to new processes and strategic direction, which is a “must-have” at this point given the speed of business-driven change.
  • These antiquated machines are best suited for environments dictated by manual procedures, in an era when automation tools have emerged as ROI-delivering generators of greater efficiency, productivity and cost-savings.
  • They are incapable of supporting current analytics/Big Data needs. Virtually every agency function area benefits from analytics. In talent management, advanced solutions help HR managers and their teams better identify and reduce and/or eliminate recruitment bottlenecks, onboarding issues and employee disengagement/attrition, while significantly enhancing training/development and succession efforts.

I’ll be monitoring the progress of the modernization bill closely, so look for updates here on our blog. Meanwhile, we at Acendre are always working with government customers to replace legacy HR systems with the latest, analytics-enabling solutions. If the bill passes, we have proven ourselves as a “go to” partner for agencies in this space. If this sounds like something you’d like to discuss further, please contact us.

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