When it comes to federal IT departments, many CIOs are often faced with the challenge of deciding how time, money, and personnel are to be managed in order to best achieve their agency’s objectives— while simultaneously providing maximum value to the American people. Luckily, cloud computing offers solutions in shifting how resources are spent in departments where CIOs are trying to improve the status quo.

For nearly 20 years, the federal government has relied on on-premise (on-prem) software models that are installed and run on computers utilized by agency personnel. Consequently, these outdated legacy systems require an exorbitant amount of time and money to maintain. According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, roughly three quarters of the $89 billion budget in fiscal 2017 has been allocated toward technology spending. To make matters worse, funding for modernization has been declining. While the overall budget for technology has risen (15 percent between 2010 and 2016), spending on modernization has decreased by a third. This leaves many CIOs fighting an uphill battle when it comes to modernization efforts.

The costs associated with these on-prem systems aren’t limited to just the systems, they also carry over to personnel. When CIOs look at how to allocate their budget, they need to consider that these systems don’t fix themselves—they need man power. What does that mean for the tech-savvy government employees who are responsible for the maintaining the in-house networks? Simply put, they are spending a lot of time on upkeep and less time focusing on the development of applications. More importantly, disproportionate spending on maintenance also inhibits the ability for resources—time, money, and personnel—to be spent focusing on strategic citizen-first initiatives.

The solution of cloud computing turns the current modus operandi on its head, allocating the majority of budget dollars on forward-looking strategy rather than system maintenance. The cloud doesn’t entirely eliminate maintenance, but it does change the responsible party (and therefore the dollars) to third-party providers, such as Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft. For government agencies, this means that the maintenance of the system is the liability of the company providing the service, greatly reducing the internal resource drain.

Adding to the list of cloud computing benefits, the latest versions of the software are made available to all customers once released. These frequent and immediate upgrades put new features and functionality into workers’ hands with very little, if any, downtime. Ultimately, this will increase overall productivity, eliminating time otherwise spent on the cumbersome upgrading of legacy systems.

At the end of the day, the implementation of cloud computing allows for more personnel and funding to focus on strategic initiatives, helping to drive wider agency modernization efforts and greater organizational value.

About the Author

Alex Tzavellas serves as Practice Marketing Manager where he supports MIL’s cloud solutions marketing and sales efforts. He specializes in developing and executing strategies for federal and non-profit clients.