Future-Tech: Are Mainframes Holding Your Agency Back?

Keys to Successful Modernization

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Outdated systems continue to challenge government agencies – leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks, unable to address market changes, all while managing redundant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 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?

Special thanks to contributing authors Asmaa Al-Ghafari, Brian Karp, Michael McCarthy, and Lewis Remick.

While the risk of a mainframe migration to the cloud is substantial, the cost of standing pat is exponentially higher. A disciplined assessment and modernization plan with a measured approach can ease the burden.

Paul Phaneuf

Guidehouse Digital Leader

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