Government information technology systems used to send out alerts about severe weather, process millions of tax returns, track hazardous waste incidents and even protect the U.S. nuclear arsenal all rely on outdated or unsupported hardware and software, according to a new watchdog report.
How outdated? The application programming languages undergirding some federal IT systems were new when "The Andy Griffith Show" premiered, according to the Government Accountability Office's new report, which was presented to Congress on May 25. (Nextgov’s Frank Konkel has more about the report and the hearing here).
The chart below lists more details about the 10 oldest legacy systems still in use in the federal government as tallied up by GAO. It’s important to note what’s meant by “system” here. GAO is referring to the underlying programming language and data structures of a system -- even if parts of the hardware and software supporting the system have more recently been updated.
“The situation is analogous to operating a 1960s automobile with the original chassis, suspension and drivetrain, but with a more modern engine, satellite radio and a GPS navigation system,” chief technology officer of the Internal Revenue Service, Terence Milholland, testified today. “It runs better than the original model, but not nearly as efficiently as a system bought today.”