Can big data save the government $500 billion?

Big data has the potential to produce a smarter, more efficient government, survey suggests.

Big Data

Can big data help the government save $500 billion?

A survey of 150 federal IT executives conducted by Meritalk suggests big data has the potential right now to produce a smarter, more efficient government that could cut the $3.54 trillion federal budget by 14 percent, freeing up an extra $500 billion per year.

The survey findings are documented in a report called "The Smarter Uncle Sam: The Big Data Forecast." The eye-catching $500 billion figure comes from extrapolating what the 150 IT execs believe their respective agencies can save by successfully leveraging big data – a relatively new tech term meant to describe pulling insights from the analysis of large, sometimes seemingly unrelated data sets.

The report suggests a smorgasbord of savings in three main arenas:

  • Managing the transportation infrastructure;
  • Fighting fraud, waste and abuse;
  • Executing military, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"When they look at how they are using data and how it could be used in all these kinds of fields, there are a significant amount of dollars that can be saved there," said Rich Campbell, Chief Technologist at EMC Federal. EMC Federal underwrote the Meritalk report.

"The data analysis of trends and allocation of resources is at a much more molecular level now than ever before, and the potential is becoming more realized on a day-by-day basis," Campbell said. "We're seeing more use cases and newer technologies, and the government is moving ahead and tackling the low-hanging fruit out there right now."

Clear-cut use cases in big data are not common yet in the federal government, though some have been doing big data since before it carried that label. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, frequently analyzes large data sets with supercomputers to predict for weather. In the intelligence community, the National Security Agency's recently leaked methods for Internet and phone records collections is another clear-cut big data use case.

The Meritalk survey states that about one-quarter of the federal IT executives interviewed had launched at least one big data initiative, which is promising given the relative newness of the term.

Big data today is akin to what cloud computing was to feds in 2009, and big data has yet to have a clear-cut definition. That one quarter of agencies have some kind of big data initiative – even if it isn't a full-fledged project or pilot – means the government has done more than take notice of big data.

"In the last two to three years, we've gone through this whole transformation effect – it's morphed into a commodity that an organization can leverage from places people didn't anticipate before," Campbell said. "Agencies are using their existing resources, in some cases, to spin up Hadoop clusters and allowing applications to tie in. The landscape is really beginning to change."

About 70 percent of the federal IT executives surveyed said they believed that five years from now, big data will be critical to fulfilling federal mission objectives. But how do agencies get up to speed on big data in such a short time period? Even now, many agencies have not maximized cloud computing to its potential, and it came about considerably sooner than big data.

Much as infrastructure-as-a-service and storage-as-a-service models have taken off in both the private and public sectors as organizations look to save money, Campbell said data analytics must be thought of in the same vein before agencies really put it to heavy use. Before the government gets there entirely though, old IT methods -- like large, long-term contracts with single contractors for proprietary solutions -- are going to have to go. Agencies are also going to have to spend considerable time decide how they want to use big data, and specifically decide which questions they want their data to answer.

"The cost model of these services is going to have to change," Campbell said. "I don't foresee massive long-term contracts anymore – I see agencies looking more for cheaper ways to do data analytics. The cost is already coming down, and the processes and people are only going to get more refined."

NEXT STORY: Unintended benefits

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.