The FINANCIAL — A new report from Accenture has found that while U.S. federal agencies are accelerating the modernization of their information technology (IT) systems and infrastructures, there are significant gaps in aligning their technology priorities with mission objectives.
In addition, despite many agencies reporting success implementing new technologies, only a small minority have fully adopted new approaches like cloud computing, digital platforms and agile software development, underscoring the gaps that many are facing in supporting more-agile operations.
The State of Federal IT 2018 report — based on the Accenture Federal Services (AFS) survey of 200 federal IT executives — sought to answer two primary questions: Is federal IT serving mission needs, and are agencies pivoting quickly enough to new technologies?
The results found that while IT organizations are making real progress in modernizing technology systems and infrastructures, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of IT decisionmakers report that they’re still playing an enabling role within their agency. At the same time, collaboration between the IT organization and mission, business and operations stakeholders are inconsistent. Only 47 percent of IT decisionmakers believe they’re effectively contributing to mission agility, and even fewer (39 percent) say they’re able to transform mission and business requirements into compelling business cases for new IT investment.
The report also assessed the extent to which federal agencies are adopting specific strategies and technologies, like Agile and DevOps, commercial cloud infrastructures and shared services/centers of excellence. Across the board, responses indicated a stronger focus on modernizing IT operations than on deploying capabilities that directly empower mission and business stakeholders.
For example, 54 percent describe commercial cloud infrastructure as either very important or essential to accelerating IT impact, while 40 percent say the same about software-as-a-service applications.
At the same time, commercial cloud adoption among federal agencies remains limited, with more than half (54 percent) of respondents saying they run only 25 percent or less of their infrastructure in the cloud.
While IT investments are becoming more of a priority for federal agencies, the path to technology modernization is not without challenges. More than four in 10 respondents cited lack of funding (48 percent), cybersecurity concerns (44 percent) and a reliance on legacy IT (40 percent) as major barriers to technology adoption. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of government executives said they are experiencing digital skills shortages, a major hinderance both now and into the future.