Future-Tech: Are Mainframes Holding Your Agency Back?

Keys to Successful Modernization

By Paul Phaneuf, Arijeet Roy

Outdated systems continue to challenge government agencies – leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks, unable to address market changes, all while managing redundant processes, just to maintain business as usual. While updating these systems has a significant upfront cost and provides little benefit to taxpayers, neglecting them can and often does present risk to many agencies. In this edition of GHFuture2030, we continue to dissect forward-looking challenges - here we discuss the significant upfront migration cost and the need to demonstrate long-term value to taxpayers. Agencies can no longer ignore the risks of staying on mainframe platforms. During recent Congressional testimony, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted 10 out of the 15 federal agencies investigated had 249 systems vulnerabilities, of which 168 posed significant risk to the security of their operations. Additionally, the existing systems, some of which are more than 50 years old, use obsolete programming languages, as well as hardware and software that are no longer supported by the manufacturers.

Each year, Congress appropriates approximately $100 billion toward modernization and 80% is allocated to maintain these antiquated systems. Federal agencies continue to struggle with the proactive planning and budgeting needed to modernize legacy systems; upgrading underlying infrastructure; and investing in high quality, lower cost service delivery technology. As a result, agencies continue to be exposed to security risks, unmet mission needs, staffing issues, and increased costs.

As a result, agencies continue to be exposed to security risks, unmet mission needs, staffing issues, and increased costs.

complexities of migrating from mainframe systems

How can agencies successfully migrate from these obsolete technologies to less expensive, more agile systems that can mitigate security risk, improve taxpayer services, and reduce support costs?

"The key to any successful migration is to conduct a robust discovery phase to uncover risks and limitations early - our proven methodology enables an agency to see and migrate risks before they can negatively impact the broader program and associated stakeholders."

— Arjun Reddy, Partner, Public Sector Financial Services

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This article is co-authored by Asmaa Al-Ghafari, Michael McCarthy, and Lewis Remick.

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