Use Technology to Enhance Productivity


Use Technology to Enhance Productivity

Friday, May 25th, 2012 - 17:49
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Government today spends more on information technology (IT) overhead costs than on the direct costs of mission systems.

This is because government now has thousands of mission systems using legacy architecture, each built for a single purpose to support the needs of a single program or agency. Common standards, common definitions of like data, or enterprise approaches are rarely used in the federal government. Government does not often leverage IT to make things simpler, generate economies of scale, or increase collaboration. Over the last 20 years, mission systems have become more customized and focused on single programs or needs, making government information systems at once more siloed and complex.

Customized mission systems require expensive tools and large specialized staffs to manage complex operations and maintenance activities. The Government Accountability Office reported in October 2011 that $26.5 billion is spent on systems that directly support agencies in the performance of their missions, while $35.5 billion is being spent on overhead costs to manage those systems (see Figure). The following questions need to be answered in order to get more value out of government IT spending:

  • Why does the government spend more on managing IT than on the mission systems themselves?
  • How would the government benefit from new technologies, and what specifically should be done to change government’s current IT infrastructure?
  • What is the role of the chief information officer (CIO) in addressing the cost and use of IT?

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