The Holistic Approach to Modernizing Federal IT Systems -- (Part 1)

Blog /The-Holistic-Approach-to-Modernizing-Federal-IT-Systems-Part-1

It’s human nature to look for simple solutions. For example, if we just cut carbs (or sugar, or fat) from our diet, we’ll lose weight and be healthier. But history shows us that simple answers to complex problems are rarely effective.

Just as a holistic plan involving improved diet, increased exercise, and lower stress levels is (so far) the only path to better health, a comprehensive, highly strategic approach is the only way to help government agencies struggling to modernize obsolete IT applications and systems.

The problem

Those in government know that federal agencies are rife with aging IT systems that cost so much to maintain they consume the majority of those agencies’ IT budgets. That leaves little or no money left to modernize systems that desperately need it. Money that should be spent to move away from legacy systems is instead spent maintaining mainframes, vintage code, and no-longer-supported technologies.

The hope

Government leaders believe increased responsiveness and lower costs can be achieved by rapid transitions to cloud-based systems. Cloud vendors are happy to promise to deliver significant savings. Gartner analysts have seen financial managers—acting on advice from vendors and others—apply immediate budget reductions of 15% and more to total IT budgets. These savings levels are usually unrealistic and may be completely unachievable. In fact, transitioning to new environments and decommissioning legacy systems sometimes causes costs to rise.

The research

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an examination of the government’s Cloud First policy in September 2014. It found that seven agencies (representing more than 25% of the total IT/communications budget) showed less than 0.5% savings attributable to cloud in over three years. Of the 101 cloud-based projects undertaken by the agencies, only 22 delivered any measurable cost reduction.

Gartner research into the success of cloud transitions found that government CIOs are making quick, tactical choices to achieve compliance with Cloud First directives. The result is a missed opportunity to maximize the potential savings and other benefits from cloud computing. “Weak or absent cloud-adoption strategies relevant to the agencies’ context hinder CIO’s ability to leverage cloud computing to deliver benefits to the overall organization,” write analysts Neville Cannon and Glenn Archer in “Government CIOs See Expected Cloud Cost Savings Evaporate,” part of “Strategy and Tactics for Federal IT Modernization,” an NTT DATA/Gartner newsletter.

The strategy

Using a holistic, tailorable framework to align operational goals, user needs, and technology capabilities, NTT DATA has helped federal agencies create properly structured modernization programs that resulted in up to 30% gains in process and operational efficiency, 50% reductions in development costs, and up to 30% reductions in total cost of operations.

In the second part of this post, we’ll outline key aspects of the holistic approach to modernization.

To discuss your IT modernization strategy, please contact us at

Post Date: 2/22/2017

Dave Kapusta - NTT DATA Dave Kapusta

About the author

Dave Kapusta is the chief operating officer of NTT DATA Federal Services, Inc. where he is responsible for all operations of NTT DATA’s federal secure market. Kapusta has more than 28 years of defense and IT industry leadership experience. His career and capabilities span IT, systems implementation and integration, program management, government contracts management, strategic planning, sales and sales management. Prior to his appointment at NTT DATA, Mr. Kapusta held management and executive level positions at IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Coopers & Lybrand. His experience also includes service as a U.S. Air Force officer. Mr. Kapusta is a graduate of Lehigh University (BS, Electrical Engineering) and Boston College (MBA).