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Trump Said Government Has One 40-Year-Old IT System. It Actually Has At Least 10.

By Frank Konkel // April 12, 2017

Fer Gregory/

In a meeting with prominent business executives Tuesday, President Donald Trump lamented the poor state of federal IT, telling CEOs, “We have a computer system in this country that’s 40 years old.”

Actually, Mr. President, we have at least 10 such systems—and they’re critical to U.S. civilian and military operations.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal is coordinated by the 54-year-old Strategic Automated Command and Control System, run on 1970s-era IBM mainframes that still use 8-inch floppy disks. President John F. Kennedy held your position when these systems were designed.

If that’s a scary thought, here’s something even more sobering: Two of the Treasury Department’s tax systems are even older. Collectively, the 57-year-old Individual Master File and Individual Business File house tax data for more than 100 million Americans, and they’re running on “low-level computer code” that predate the NASA moon landing by a decade.

Your promise to improve veteran care is an important one, but it won’t be easy. The Veterans Affairs Department's back-end system for tracking benefit claims is 52 years old, and its time-and-attendance tracking software will turn 54 this year.

Here’s a list of the 10...

Nextgov Event: Experience the True Power of Digital Government

By Frank Konkel // March 28, 2017


The future federal government runs on digital technologies, delivering services and information to citizens at light-speed, not two to three business days.

On Thursday, Nextgov and Government Executive will convene a forum to discuss how agencies are improving their digital service delivery, basing decisions on mission outcomes and customer satisfaction.

In our first panel, we’ll chat with Keith Nakasone, a lead acquisition official from the General Services Administration, Alec Palmer, chief information officer at the Federal Elections Commission, and Antonio Rios, who heads the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation for the Labor Department. These officials uses technology in different ways to serve customers and meet mission needs.

In our second panel, I’ll talk with David Simeon, division chief of innovation and technology at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Tiffany Shackelford, director of communications and strategic planning for the National Governors Association. Simeon will describe how USCIS uses technology to improve the immigration process, and Shackelford will highlight efforts at the state and local level that could serve as use cases for feds.

The True Power of Digital Government will take place 8-10 a.m. at the Hamilton Live, March 30.

For more information or to...

Nextgov Event: Join Us March 29 for Tech Refresh  

By Frank Konkel // March 24, 2017

Montri Nipitvittaya/

The struggle to modernize federal IT systems is real.

Since former U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott declared legacy technology a bigger crisis “than Y2K ever was,” IT modernization has been at the forefront of the federal tech agenda.

This is a challenge every federal agency faces, and it’s a big one. Most agencies spend approximately 80 percent of their IT budgets on operations and maintenance of legacy systems, or what some refer to as “keeping the lights on.” The other 20 percent goes toward the investment and development of new technologies.

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Last year, Congress and the Government Accountability Office probed agencies for their oldest systems and found several critical systems that have been in operation more than 40 years. The money spent on those systems is entirely on O&M, and that’s not uncommon. The Housing and Urban Development Department is currently spending 95 percent of its IT budget on legacy systems, according to GAO, and others, like the Army Corps of Engineers, are in that ballpark.

So, how do cash-strapped agencies actually modernize systems?

On Wed., March 29, Nextgov...

Nextgov Event: All in on Artificial Intelligence

By Frank Konkel // March 21, 2017

Christian Lagerek/

Artificial intelligence is all the rage in government right now—and for good reason.

Complex software written on ever-evolving hardware and computing capabilities has the potential to disrupt the economy by trillions of dollars, could provide instantaneous customer feedback to millions of customers, help humanity get to Mars and beyond, and a whole lot more.

The federal government will be intimately involved in either creating policies by which AI, machine learning and other emerging technologies are governed or in creating applications for those technologies itself. In many cases, agencies are already all in on AI, having taken initial steps to begin pilots, projects and collaborations with academic institutions and industry.

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On Thursday, at our next Tech and Tequila meet-up, we’ll explore advancements in AI policies and applications across both civilian government and the national security apparatus.  

Speakers include Justin Herman, digital communities and open government lead at the General Services Administration and Terah Lyons, former policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who will talk about policy and collaborative efforts in AI in the federal community.


Nextgov Event: Improving Customer Satisfaction in Government

By Frank Konkel // March 3, 2017

Den Rise/

The Rolling Stones had it right.

By almost any measure, 300-plus million citizens and customers of the federal government can’t get no satisfaction, a problem the Obama administration picked up on that now falls to the new President Donald Trump.

While the Obama administration elevated customer service to its management agenda, there’s an air of uncertainty regarding the level of import Trump will place on customer service. Will the billionaire mogul make customer service a priority for government—much as it is in the private sector and business world—or are his proposed budget cuts and hiring freeze a signal that dollars matter the most to this administration?

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When it comes to customer service, can the government really do more with less?

We’ll discuss these issues and others Thursday, March 9, at our Federal Customer Experience Summit of 2017. We’ve themed this event—our fifth since 2014—on building a citizen-centric government, with an emphasis on discussing how some agencies have improved customer satisfaction.

We’ll hear how the National Weather Services is forging partnerships with other agencies to save...

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