Reminders

Smart Government

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Unlike a few years ago, U.S. federal civilian agencies are not seeing double-digit annual growth in information technology spending. But moderate growth is still underway. Some of these spending increases are happening because agencies face significant ongoing expenses related to maintaining legacy systems.

This week IDC issues a new civilian agency IT spending forecast, which predicts that annual civilian agency spending will reach $52.0 billion by the time the 2018 fiscal year ends on September 30. Surprisingly, we expect just 21.1% of those funds will go into new systems development, while 78.9% will go toward improving and maintaining legacy systems. (Maintenance and Operations.)


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I recently discussed cloud on a Government Matters TV program that aired May 2. LaVerne Council/Former CIO, Department of Veterans Affairs and National Managing Principal for Enterprise Technology Strategy and Innovation, Grant Thornton and I addressed these issues. To view the segment, please visit https://govmatters.tv/aws/


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We spend a lot of time “following the money” for government information technology. So, it’s intriguing to see occasional spending increases that target specific government IT solutions. Such changes hint at how priorities are shifting and how certain types of solutions are gaining precedence.

That’s why the growth we see for both government mobile solutions, and big data and analytics, caught our eye.


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This is an opportune time to put a stake in the ground – to talk about the ongoing costs of operating the U.S. federal government's data centers.
Currently, agencies are working to comply with the Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCOI), which requires them to count the number of datacenters they operate (the total number is in the thousands) and to also count servers, associated hardware and software, plus the types of IT solutions being supported. Agencies are required to track the amount being spent on various components within their datacenters, and they need to make plans to reduce those costs.
However, as we focus on potential cost reductions, IDC does not anticipate that many agencies will see an immediate decrease in data center spending. Here's why: It can cost money to migrate current solutions to new platforms, and it's not always easy to simply turn out the lights in a data center, even if it is slated for closure.
Also, the DCOI does not have any special funds set aside to help with the closures, so agencies will be tackling the effort as best they can with available budgets. Our experience has shown us that the government's legacy systems have a tendency to linger longer than anticipated when agencies work to move them to new platforms, especially when they lack the funds to make the change quickly.


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This week, IDC Government Insights announced the results of its 2017 IDC Government Top 50 Vendor Rankings. These rankings use a standardized methodology to publish the estimated IT revenue of the top vendors serving the U.S. federal government. IDC examines thousands of different federal IT contracts, and then isolates the spending by fiscal year. We send our estimates to the companies for their consideration and potential feedback.

These numbers focus strictly on estimated revenue from the sale of hardware, software and IT services. The numbers do not include things like staffing costs, business process engineering, or other non-IT spending. This approach is unique to IDC. It makes our numbers lower than what can be seen on other government top IT vendor lists, but we believe this approach is a better measure of what is truly "addressable" IT spending by the federal government.


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Some interesting long-term trends are taking shape within U.S. federal government IT spending. The changes are sure to have an impact on agencies’ ability to comply with requirements set forth by the Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCOI), which came out of OMB a little over 13 months ago. A new set of deadlines for DCOI are slated to kick in this fall. But are they properly funded?


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The transition to the digital economy and the advent of innovations, such as cognitive computing and robotics, are transforming nearly every aspect of individuals' and enterprises' lives. Governments that design the right strategy and governance can play and important role for their countries to embrace the benefits of digital transformation.


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Shifting priorities in U.S. federal information technology spending can best be understood by holding a lens up to two recent trends.
1.Total federal cloud spending for Fiscal Year 2017 is expected to decrease by 17.2% (vs. FY 2016). That’s a substantial drop, from $2.6 billion to $2.2 billion.
- Besides classic cloud spending, this year, federal agencies will spend $4.1 billion on cloud-like solutions, which are best described as falling into a provisioned/shared services/other category. This too is down a bit, from $4.6 billion last year.
- This mix of formal cloud spending and quasi-cloud spending is why you sometimes see total cloud spending listed as somewhere in the mid $6 billion range.
2.Total Federal IT security spending for FY 2017 is expected to increase 7.9%, from just under $3.5 billion to a little over $3.7 billion.

While the Trump administration has emphasized that it will focus on various types of cost cutting for the next few years, the decrease in cloud spending actually has its genesis in the formulation of the FY 2017 budget, which took place before the 2016 election.

Basically, cloud plans are hitting the doldrums this year, after several years of steady growth. But security spending has ramped up in response to rapidly expanding networks (thanks to the Internet of Things) and multiple international hacking attempts.


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The UK government published a Transformation Strategy, which launches the next stage of government digital transformation, building upon the progress of the 2012 Digital Strategy. It aims to respond to citizens’ expectations for more convenient and responsive services, and increase value for money of government investments, by leveraging on the tidal wave of digital innovation that is transforming the economy.


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There's one fundamental thing to keep in mind when it comes to border protection. Knowing and tracking an intruder's direction of travel can be much more important than building a physical barrier. Human beings are very creative when it comes to getting around things that block their progress, so once a border is breached, actual enforcement happens after the crossing.

A couple of years ago I had a chance to meet a group of border patrol agents from Texas. They were in Washington D.C. to participate in a conference focused on police and national security issues.

We talked about ways to close the holes in the U.S. Mexican border and the subject of walls came up. One of the officers rolled his eyes. I don't remember his exact words but he stressed that walls are great for urban areas, but they have minimal impact in rural areas where the nearest border patrol agent might be located miles away.



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