Homeland Security

Eating up the IT spending pie

money drain

The Department of Homeland Security still struggles to meld the disparate IT infrastructures of the agencies it inherited into an integrated whole, according to a recent study.

FCW's sister publication GCN cited a recent report from International Data Corp. that said on average, government agencies spend around 75 percent of their IT budget on operating and maintaining legacy systems, with the rest going to modernizations or new IT. DHS puts just more than 16 percent of its annual IT budget toward new systems and modernization.

The study said even though DHS has seen significant progress with some infrastructure efforts, including data center consolidation and the 2011 creation of its OneNet wide-area network, IT difficulties remain.

Read the whole thing here.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 26, 2014 David Vano Rockville, MD

Interesting article! The DHS is certainly not alone here. Many federal agencies report spending up to 75% of their IT budget on "keeping the lights on” for legacy systems. With the majority of funding spent on keeping existing technology running, rather than investing in new technologies that can deliver improvements in efficiency, IT budget has become a growing concern for companies across industries. According to one of our recent studies, IT professionals expect their organizations to continue relying on mainframe applications for another ten years, with almost a third believing it to be longer. However, despite the perceived longevity of mainframe applications and mounting IT debt, the majority (81%) find it difficult justifying the expense of maintaining core applications. As a result, 51% of CIOs admit their business is exposed to compliance and risk issues. The latest findings on the growing IT debt make a strong case for modernizing legacy systems, rather than the "rip and replace" approach. In my experience, modernization presents a wide range of benefits for the business — it can significantly reduce IT costs, free up budget for other projects and increase overall productivity. When dealing with tight budgets, it is important that IT leaders take a more measured approach to save real money in the short term, while delivering value in the long term. David Vano, Senior Vice President, Federal, Micro Focus

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