FITARA Forum: Federal CIO says Agencies Spend 80 Percent of IT Budget on Legacy Systems

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Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott urged agencies to make the most of their new authority under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition and Reform Act (FITARA).

At the August 11 FITARA Forum, Scott said cutting spending on legacy systems represents a unique problem because agencies are spending more than previously believed to prop up old systems.

Scott said that collectively agencies spend 80 percent of their IT budgets on legacy networks, FCW’sMark Rockwell reported. That exceeds the estimate from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which has said agencies will spend about $58 billion of the $79 billion IT budget on legacy systems in Fiscal 2015 – or 73 percent.

“My experience has been that if you ask a CIO to go save money… they’ll stop spending on new application development,” Scott said at the FITARA Forum. “They’ll stop spending on refreshing infrastructure. They’ll stop spending on the things that are easy to cut. That’s a circle-the-drain philosophy, and eventually you get to the point… where you have crumbling systems, and this is not a case where you can save your way to success.”

Instead, he said during a discussion of FITARA, agencies need to invest, innovate, and retire legacy systems.

Aaron Boyd at Federal Times wrote that Scott and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will have four expectations when they review the action plans from agencies:

  • Has the agency identified real “breakthrough” opportunities to change, to transform, to embrace the digitization process?
  • Has the agency described a compelling and believable plan of actions to make that change?
  • How does this address the CIO’s relationship with their peers in CFO, CHCO, CAO, and programs?
  • How does this address the CIO’s relationship with their deeper organization (bureau/component CIOs)?

Agencies have met the first major hurdle of FITARA – an August 15 deadline to file self-assessment and implementation plans with the OMB.

OMB will post all agency plans for public review on management.cio.gov and spend the next month reviewing the implementation plans and self-assessments submitted by each agency.

OMB panelists at the FITARA Forum dispelled the notion that the new law represents the latest version of the Clinger-Cohen Act, which became law in 1996 but failed to reign in IT spending.

“I think there’s this prolonged, persistent attention that we and a lot of others are planning to dedicate toward it that will help make it more successful than Clinger-Cohen,” said Jamie Berryhill, chief of policy, planning, budget, and communications at OMB, at the FITARA Forum.
Join the conversation. Post a comment below or email me at bglanz@300brand.com.

Bill Glanz
About Bill Glanz
Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. Over the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.
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