January 13, 2011 – Nearly half (47 percent) of all existing IT applications are based on outdated legacy technology, according to a recent survey of 166 federal IT leaders by MeriTalk, a government IT network and the Unisys Center for Innovation in Government.

This research revealed that agencies spend almost half of the annual federal IT budget, $35.7 billion, maintaining and supporting legacy applications. Yet, only one-third of respondents said that application modernization is a top priority.

Federal IT leaders view application modernization as a long-term project, with 60 percent of respondents saying that modernization initiatives will take three years or longer to implement. Application redundancy is an issue in federal agencies, according to the report, particularly in the areas of IT governance and risk management, enterprise document and content management. Respondents reported that their agencies are making the most progress in the areas of federated identity management, business process management, geographic information systems, and service-oriented architecture.

Lack of communication and understanding of application modernization initiatives are contributing to delays, the study indicated. Aside from a bigger budget and more staff, respondents said they could surmount these challenges and accelerate application modernization with stronger leadership support, prioritization of modernization initiatives and a better understanding of the modernization process.

“Application modernization can and must be a direct route to greater effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability for organizations in the public and private sectors,” says Peter Gallagher, partner, Unisys Federal Systems. “Organizations that adopt an incremental approach to modernization that emphasizes service reuse – as opposed to technology – and a governance culture of creating shared services will be well positioned for application modernization success,” says Gallagher.

Our recent article on the also outdated Social Security data center can be read here


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