A Roadmap for IT Modernization in Government
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Our new report provides a roadmap for agencies on how to modernize, based on lessons learned from past experience in government and industry.

Blog Co-Authors: Michael Preis, Vice President and Partner, IBM; Vladimr Shebalkin, Federal Migration Factory Services, IBM Global Business Services; and Mike Conger, U.S. Federal Team, IBM Global Business Services

Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard from Administration leaders about modernization strategies, following the enactment of the Modernizing Government Technology Act and the implementation of the Administration’s IT Modernization strategy.  In this context, the IBM Center for The Business of Government is releasing a new report, A Roadmap for IT Modernization in Government, by Gregory Dawson of Arizona State University

Professor Dawson’s recommended roadmap is based on research into past experi­ences in IT modernization at the Federal and State level, as well as in industry. He draws lessons from his research and extensive case interviews with Federal and State Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Using these lessons, the author frames impediments to modernization and risks for agencies that do not modern­ize, including continued cybersecurity weaknesses. The report uses this framing to develop eight key lessons for government leaders at various stages of IT modern­ization, and concludes by setting out a roadmap for implementation that agencies can adapt to address these key lessons.

This report provides a resource for agencies to understand how best to develop a modernization business case, establish and implement a change management strategy, and put in place both a long-term initiative and short-term steps that can help agencies measure real progress.  The report examines the status of IT modernization in the public sector, and identifies key lessons from private industry and government agencies that include:

  • Understand the organizational drivers for modernization
  • Plan at the enterprise level implement at the local level
  • Communicate value to citizens and shareholders
  • Focus on people, then address processes, and only then technology
  • Make modernization as a long-term commitment

Based on these key lessons, the roadmap below illustrates how successful IT modernization can take place in government, in a manner consistent with the MGT Act. Major points from the roadmap include:

  • Modernize as an on-going process rather than a single standalone event, to allow for continuous improvement rather than costlier sporadic “catch ups.”
  • Seek feedback throughout the process to capture lessons learned and act accordingly.
  • Focus on how technology is supporting mission goals.
  • Identify stakeholders for each step, making leadership and operational staff aware of their requirements and empowering them to act.
  • Ensure check-ins with agency leadership, functional leadership, technical leadership, and key users must take place throughout the process.
  • Blend a strong execution strategy, technical approach and the right team.
  • Provide 360-degree communications to foster knowledge and buy-in.
  • Measurement results both inside and outside the organization.

If the government embraces these lessons, agencies can reduce operating costs, lower the risk of cybersecurity attacks, and position themselves to take advantage of new technologies, including cloud, analytics, mobile, and artificial intelligence.

The report concludes with a recommendation that government make key investments in IT modernization, identifying and prioritizing the necessary initiatives for maximum effectiveness. Priority investments should be integrated into the budget planning cycle, to provide a founda­tion for continuous innovation and improvement. With recent statutory and agency progress, the federal government is well-positioned to move forward with effective IT modernizations that improve mission performance.

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