The majority of Federal agencies still rely heavily on legacy systems with little funding to buy new systems. But the good news is, most agency IT managers feel they can still squeeze a few more years out of their current systems, if given the right application upgrades, according to a new report from MeriTalk.

The report, titled “Future Ready Applications: The Modern Legacy,” sponsored by Accenture Federal Services, also shows that most federal IT managers think upgrades should be implemented as soon as possible.

MeriTalk interviewed 150 federal IT managers for the study and found that more than half of them (55 percent) feel confident that their current legacy applications could be successfully modernized, including remediating, renewing, or re-platforming.

The overwhelming majority (92 percent) said modernization of their legacy system is an urgent matter, for various reasons, including:

•    42 percent are worried about security issues.

•    36 percent need upgrades to manage or maintain their systems.

•    31 percent said they need the improvements to handle integration issues.

But improvement won’t be easy, according to David Hantman, general manager at MeriTalk. “The Federal government is running legacy systems from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, which many Feds find outdated, inefficient, and difficult to fix,” he said. “The clock is ticking. The time to modernize is now.”

Even though Federal IT managers sense the need for immediate upgrades, the survey found that only half (53 percent) of the agencies have any kind of modernization strategy in place, and just over one in four (28 percent) have developed a business plan for renewing or replacing existing applications. Yet, despite formal plans, two out three (66 percent) said modernization efforts at their agency will increase over the next 18 months.

In essence, the report revealed a sluggishness to respond to the need for modernization–fairly typical of big government–but if done fairly soon, the modernization of legacy applications could bring about a positive outcome.

“[If] they take a deeper look into their legacy applications, they will realize that implementing the right modernization strategy can truly uncover unrealized potential,” Hantman said.

“Application modernization provides a powerful opportunity for agencies to upgrade to more flexible and secure systems for innovation and cost cutting in the long term,” said Tom Greiner, who leads Accenture Federal Service’s technology business.

The modernization should make life easier for not only Federal IT managers, but also for Federal employees. Seventy-seven percent of Federal IT managers said application modernization will improve the end-user experience at their agency.

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