Nextgov Event: Join Us March 29 for Tech Refresh  

Montri Nipitvittaya/

Learn lessons from agencies that successfully modernized their tech systems.

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 will convene a panel discussion with federal officials who’ve successfully navigated modernization efforts as part of our Tech Refresh series.

Michelle Mainelli, acting director of the National Weather Service’s Office of Dissemination, will highlight how the agency in charge of collecting and releasing weather data moved away from siloed systems in favor of a unified network. The systems that collect terabytes of raw weather data are complex, including supercomputing environments and components all across the country, yet NWS has reduced downtime and improved weather service experience for its myriad customers.

We’ll also hear from Christine Calvosa, deputy chief information officer of technology and resiliency for the Federal Communications Commission. FCC brought down its legacy spend by more than 35 percent following a major move to cloud computing, and expects nearly 100 percent of its operations to take place in the cloud by the end of this year. The significant savings came as a result of reduced contracted positions, increased efficiency and improved operations—all built on the back of small wins that led to support from key leadership executives.

Matt Hummer, director of analytics and professional services at Govini, will discuss modernization trends across the federal landscape, where key opportunities are for industry and how the new administration’s policies and potential legislation could impact agencies.

Our panel will be aired via livestream from 11 a.m. to noon on March 29, and archived for those who register. Those interested in tuning in may register by visiting our event website.