The spending of government in IT

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The spending of government in IT

More so than the commercial sector, the government sector faces unique challenges. The impact of budgetary constraints requires thoughtful decisions and a strategic plan to modernize the current way of doing business and improve organizational performance. Quite simply, government needs to change how it does business and evaluate IT tools that are powerful and cost effective.

Some of the challenges facing government entities include:

  • Proprietary systems – developed with no effort to capitalize on technology innovations or interoperability with similar systems or capabilities
  • Narrow optimizations – that limit the opportunities to reuse or adapt capabilities for other systems
  • Closed designs – that prohibit visibility throughout the process and limits collaboration and community involvement
  • Non-standard architectures

The graphic below illustrates the seriousness of the problem. The typical government approach has been to purchase and customize systems for individual programs at each agency. This approach has resulted in information and operations silos that end up constraining government’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Government IT Spending
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, Information Technology: OMB Needs to Improve Its Guidance on IT Investments, GAO-11-826 September 2011

A question begging to be asked is why the government is spending more on managing IT than on the missions themselves? Part of the answer lies in the fact that over the past 20 years mission systems have become more complex and customized to meet very specific needs, resulting in information systems that have become even more siloed and complex. Another question is how would the government benefit from new technologies and how can the IT infrastructure be improved in alignment with budgetary considerations?

Traditional approaches have delivered benefits in the previous environment of large monolithic systems development. These approaches are no longer viable options for today’s environment, where rapid development cycles and capabilities can be quickly developed and deployed with the understanding that they will interoperate with the organization as a whole. Achieving interoperability in a net-centric environment is fundamental to realizing the full potential of transformation.

Our 21st Century Government – Mission Support through Technology Innovation white paper explores some of these issues.


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