Legacy system modernization key in accomplishing Digital Government

July 13, 2017

Governments worldwide still heavily depend on legacy technology. In fact, approximately three-quarters of all IT related budgets are spent on keeping legacy technology running. Besides the huge spending, many skilled legacy code programmers are nearing their retirement age. Valuable knowledge is walking out the door and few new programmers can be found. Meanwhile, Government agencies struggle to innovate and keep up with the increasing citizen demand. Things must change. The need for Digital Government is pressing.

A Gartner global survey of government sector CIOs found that 13 per cent of the technology budgets of public sector entities will go towards legacy modernization this year.

“Governments need to pay down technical debt by accelerating modernization initiatives to allow them to explore alternative sourcing options and to focus on innovation and meeting citizen expectations. Application rationalization is part of this, so the Government’s commitment in the budget to platform consolidation and a shared services model should help accelerate the transition to digital government for many of the smaller agencies,” Dean Lacheca, Gartner’s public sector research director, told CIO Australia.

Although Government has set aside funding for legacy ICT modernization, all change is challenging, specifically when resources are tight and risk is high. Old legacy systems need to be transformed, existing data needs to be preserved while integration between separate agencies and citizen access to public services need to be improved. Safe federated data exchange platforms reduce the need for citizens to enter similar information to multiple agencies.  In addition, enhanced data analytics enables Governments to design better targeted and more effective public services, e.g. in education, social services, and health care.

These point-to-point data exchanges between several government agencies require flexible and secure integrations which cannot be accomplished with legacy systems. When considering a modernization there are several options to choose from like rewrites, standard off the shelf packages, lift & shift and Legacy Transformation. Check the video.

On top of that is the security issue. Cyber attacks are the order of the day and civilian security is at stake. While Cloud computing offers maximum flexibility and agility at lower cost, it is a challenge to achieve compliance. Therefore, Microsoft has developed Azure for Government, a sophisticated Cloud solution that has the most certifications to simplify critical government compliance requirements.

Successful Government Legacy Transformations

At City of Columbus the migration of the Criminal History mainframe system to a Windows platform resulted in faster access to crucial criminal information databases for police officers and their law enforcement partners. Check the case study.

Right after the migration, Swedish Transport Agency was able to reduce batch time for an end of year batch from 7 hours to just 22 minutes. Due to the higher performance of the system the number of operational issues was reduced instantly as well. Check the case study.

At the Treasury Office of Allegheny County, the migration of their Fund Accounting and Investment (FAI) legacy system to a Microsoft Windows based platform enabled them to more quickly receive and reimburse funds and to rapidly update the FAI system due to changes in tax law and regulations. Check the case study.