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(Ionut Arghire – SecurityWeek) – U.S. federal agencies are accelerating the modernization of their information technology (IT) systems and infrastructures, but they still have to align their technology priorities with mission objectives, new research from Accenture discovered.

In their newly published State of Federal IT 2018 report (PDF), Accenture reveals that only a few agencies have fully adopted new approaches like cloud computing, digital platforms and agile software development. This reveals gaps that many agencies are facing in supporting more-agile operations.

According to the survey, IT organizations are making progress in modernizing technology systems and infrastructures, yet 70% of the responding IT decision makers say they’re still playing an enabling role within their agency.

Only 47% of them believe they’re effectively contributing to mission agility (integrating, automating, and digitizing key processes and services), but 67% believe they can protect the agency from insider threats/security breaches. 66% say they can protect it from outsider threats/cyberattacks.

The report, which received responses from 200 federal IT executives, reveals that only 39% of the respondents believe they’re able to transform mission and business requirements into compelling business cases for new IT investment.

The research unveiled a focus on modernizing IT operations rather than on deploying capabilities to directly empower mission and business stakeholders. 54% of respondents consider commercial cloud infrastructure as either very important or essential to accelerating IT impact, and 40% say the same about software-as-a-service applications.

Regardless, commercial cloud adoption among federal agencies remains low. More than half (54%) of the survey respondents admitted to running only 25% or less of their infrastructure in the cloud.

Although federal agencies tend to focus on IT investments, the respondents cited lack of funding (48%), cybersecurity concerns (44%) and a reliance on legacy IT (40%) as challenges to technology adoption. 28% of government executives said digital skills shortage was a barrier.

The report also outlines three key principles that are critical to IT modernization, which should help federal agencies in their journey to implementing new technologies.

These include the fact that IT leaders must use their understanding of technology’s potential to help their agencies improve their capabilities. New partnerships and collaborations are needed, as well as readiness for constant change, given the pace at which technology advances.

“Enterprises recognize as fundamental the need to digitize their operations to become more scalable, efficient, adaptive, innovative, and precise. This is equally true for federal agencies. To thrive in this new era, federal IT leaders must prepare for dramatic changes in how they operate and deliver value,” the report reads.

Related: Many Federal Agencies Fail to Meet DMARC Implementation Deadline

Related: Senator Urges Federal Agencies to Ditch Adobe Flash

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