In this week’s Federal News Roundup, we take a closer look at the battle between legacy systems and IT modernization. The will to overhaul IT infrastructure is often thwarted by a lack of budget, as well as the complexities of knowing where to start the process of modernization and what downstream effects any modernization program will have on an agency’s overall infrastructure. So this week we take a look at the IT modernization conundrum and see how the Department of Energy and federal CIO, Tony Scott, are approaching the issue.
Want to Succeed in GovIT? Learn COBOL…
Despite the fact that the programming language COBOL, was developed nearly 60 years ago, it’s still used by federal agencies today. Why the government still uses what amounts to an ancient language when very few agency IT employees can work in COBOL is a question that is asked often inside the Beltway. It turns out that even though most agencies have been making modest gains in IT infrastructure modernization, instead of retiring legacy systems they “must maintain an infrastructure” for support “one employee still uses [the technology].
According to Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocated at Splunk the impact of legacy systems is that the federal government is less agile and less secure than it should be. But Mann is heartened by the cumulative changes in the federal government regarding IT. From the prominent roles being taken by the federal CIO and CTO to the emergence of 18F, the Technology Transformation Service, and the US Digital Service, it looks like COBOL programmers might finally be able to retire. You can read more about this topic over at FedTech Magazine.
Brother, Can You Spare $3.1 Billion?
Speaking of the federal CIO…Tony Scott has been working hard to get Congress to fund the $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund. The fund will help agency CIOs make the necessary level of investment to retire legacy IT systems and build a modern, agile infrastructure that will enable agencies to meet their 21st Century missions.
But is investing in the latest and greatest infrastructure the right course of action? Or will that just lead to a similar situation developing in 5, 10, or 15 years? You can find out what one commentator thinks at Diginomica.
Technology Transformation Service Takes Shape
There’s been chatter in the White House corridors of late about a new Technology Transformation Service (TTS), akin to 18F, that will help federal IT leaders become more agile in procurement and execution. Well, it seems that with the consolidation of the Presidential Innovation Fellows with the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology and the addition of a procurement office, the Technology Transformation Service is ready to get to work.
As Washington Technology shared recently, “[j]ust as the contracting officer will share knowledge of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, so too will TTS share knowledge of emerging discipline of agile IT procurement.”
Department of Energy Explores Moving Infrastructure to the Cloud
One agency that might be in need of the TTS sooner rather than later, is the Department of Energy. CIO, Michael Johnson, who has recently earned accolades for the single largest improvement on the FITARA scorecard, is considering enterprise solutions that will reduce the number of redundant IT systems “while improving both collaboration and cybersecurity by fostering the standardized IT processes associated with these centralized services.” Also included in the “sources sought” note is a request for feedback on a “FedRAMP-approved, infrastructure-as-a-service solution.”
You can read more about the Department of Energy’s interest in an IT overhaul here.