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Make Government IT Spending More Efficient


There is a lot of disagreement in politics nowadays.  As we enter another national election cycle, differences get more pronounced and debates more vitriolic.  However, whether you advocate for more spending or for less spending, it would be hard to find someone who is in favor of wasteful spending.

And yet, it seems, especially in the information technology area, the stories of waste, ineffective spending and obsolescence just keep coming.

In a report released last month, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) blasted the IRS for missing Microsoft’s deadline to move off of XP.  In fact, not only did the agency fail to meet the deadline, it cannot even account for approximately 1% of its PC population and so doesn’t know what operating system is being run on these “lost” computers.

Earlier this year, The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) released a report claiming that “Half or more of the $70-$80 billion the U.S. government spends each year on Information Technology (IT) and IT Security is wasted and actually leaves federal agencies in greater danger of breaches, lost and stolen hardware, the use of outdated software, missing software patches and other cybersecurity dangers.”

And State governments aren’t faring any better.  Earlier this month a report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation claimed that “state government IT offices could save $11 billion collectively in the next five years.”  Massachusetts alone, the Foundation stated, could save over $400 million off their IT spend over the next five years.

Even the government has held its own hearings on its own IT waste.  Recognizing that government IT spend has more than doubled in the last 10 years, there have been congressional reviews on how spending decisions are being made.  The Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has publically stated that “Program failures and cost overruns plague three-quarters of large federal IT programs. Federal managers say that 47 percent of their budget goes to maintain obsolete and deficient IT resources. Estimates suggest that as much as $20 billion of taxpayer money is wasted each year.”

But just talking about waste is, at most, half the story.  As with the private sector, spending on IT should be able to improve dramatically the types and quality of service the government is able to provide.  We want a government that can take advantage of all the benefits technology has to offer – whether that’s new mobile apps, cloud deployments or other technological innovations.  We do not want a government wasting dollars back on “stone age” technology – because when it does, we all lose.  We want an innovative government – spending wisely and taking advantage of all the power IT has to offer.

The growing importance the private sector is placing on improving IT Financial Management (ITFM) should be applied as well to the public sector.  ITFM provides transparency and accurate cost data that can be reviewed and audited – only by improving the measurement tools government workers have at their disposal can we expect them to better manage their IT expenses.

Improved IT spending will not only save billions of dollars for taxpayers, but will lead to a more efficient government that can provide better services.  This is an effort we can all get behind.