U.S. government not investing enough in IT, IoT

Internet of Things and IT

WASHINGTON – Federal Chief Information Officer: “We are facing a crisis …”

The U.S. government, despite commanding a $3.8 trillion budget, is lagging behind many other developed countries in IT and “Internet of Things” (IoT) investment.

When most people think of the federal government, they focus on elected officials like the president and members of Congress, and give little thought to the 2.7 million nonmilitary civil servants who do everything from inspect meat-packing plants to delivering the mail.

If you add active and reserve military personnel to that figure, the number comes to 5 million. For comparison, the largest private employer in the world is Wal-Mart, which has 2.1 million employees.

Despite the size and complexity of the federal government, investment in its own IT infrastructure is lagging. Federal CIO Tony Scott said, “We are facing a crisis that is bigger than Y2K. It’s just there is no Dec. 31, 1999. Much of the government today runs on very old, outdated technology. The people who understand it, who built it and are running it, are leaving every day. We are not building capacity with those skill sets.”

With its existing IT infrastructure in shambles, it is little surprise the federal government is, according to a report from the Brookings Institute, “ignoring the IoT” both for its own uses and as a potential area of investment for the American economy.

From that report, which was published in May: “We found that IoT was not mentioned in a single plan. The failure of federal agencies to adopt new technologies is hard to defend because it can improve government’s ability to deliver services. IoT tools, which monitor the health of a federal agency’s assets – buildings, roadways, data centers and other infrastructure components – could reduce costs, optimize performance and improve asset management. Moreover, IoT innovations can enable government entities to meet goals established for sustainability, for example traffic sensors could detect when traffic is all coming from one direction and change to green before cars slow down – improving fuel economy.”

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