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FCW : September 30, 2016
DAVID WENNERGREN is executive vice president of operations and technology at the Professional Services Council. Commentary | DAVID WENNERGREN The Professional Services Council recently unveiled its 26th annual CIO Survey, conducted in partner- ship with PSC member company Grant Thornton. Not surprisingly, this year the top two priorities for agency technology leaders are IT modernization and improved cybersecurity. Those are not sepa- rate thoughts but rather a focusing of attention on the need to move away from outdated technologies and a recognition that the two efforts must be done in parallel. An aging infrastructure exacer- bates cybersecurity vulnerabilities, while any adoption of new tech- nologies must incorporate cyberse- curity best practices. The convergence of technol- ogy and services, the power of consumption-based buying and the availability of an ever-increasing array of new technologies pro- vide for a marketplace where the potential for innovation is almost limitless. Around the world, new technologies, applications and opportunities are constantly and rapidly changing the way we live, work and play. Government must not continue to lag in its adoption of commer- cial best practices and new tech- nologies, particularly given the fact that federal agencies spend well over $80 billion annually on IT. And they are spending up to 80 percent of their IT budgets to sustain an aging and insecure legacy infra- structure. That ratio would spell disaster for companies that are trying to stay abreast of technology developments. The survey shows that agency IT leaders are committed to reversing that trend, yet even in the case of well-understood and valued initia- tives such as cloud computing, respondents said they believe their progress is too slow. At the same time, there is a clear understanding of the ever- increasing cybersecurity threats that agencies face and the need to move away from security through “denial of service” to a world of “secure information sharing” and “trusted computing from untrusted devices.” The CIO survey highlights the necessity for simultaneously mod- ernizing legacy IT and improving cybersecurity. Aging IT infrastruc- ture creates a host of problems for government, including spending too much money, falling behind on cybersecurity and being unable to take advantage of new innovations and delivery channels. Together, industry and gov- ernment can reverse the federal government’s increasing reliance on an outdated IT infrastructure by accelerating the adoption of cloud computing and similar technology upgrades and by rationalizing or retiring legacy systems. The survey also identifies the compelling need for the federal IT workforce to be trained and ready to take advantage of innovative new technologies and approaches. Earlier this month, PSC released a report titled “Ensuring the Effec- tiveness of Federal Chief Technol- ogy Officers.” Recognizing that the CTO posi- tion is a relatively new phenom- enon at most agencies, the report provides recommendations to address CTO priorities, organiza- tional placement and the impor- tance of a federal council to share ideas and collaborate on initiatives — all to address the need to make it easier for agencies to innovate and adapt. As both studies make clear, IT modernization, improved cyberse- curity and greater access to inno- vation are all intertwined. Much will change when a new adminis- tration takes office in January, but one thing will remain constant: There is a tremendous opportunity for government to capitalize on the insertion of new technology to deliver more effective mission results. n Agency leaders on the state of federal IT Federal CIOs, CTOs and chief information security officers agree that innovation is the quest and new technology is the key Aging IT infrastructure creates a host of problems for government, including spending too much money and falling behind on cybersecurity. 12 September 30, 2016 FCW.COM 0930fcw_012.indd 12 9/6/16 4:22 PM
September 15, 2016