Modernization and Adopting Change

Why Government Agencies Are Seeking Transformation

Posted by Chris Barlow on Apr 22, 2019 10:51:01 AM

Modernizing Legacy Systems and Culture

Part of our Series on Leading & Adopting Change

For the last five + years, all Government Agencies have started seeking transformation.

This transformation has been termed “modernization,” because the main component of the change is for Agencies to replace legacy software and hardware by moving their data, IT, and software from on-premise servers to the cloud.

This modernization initiative is perhaps the largest and most difficult transformation that Agencies have ever had to face. It is one of the most talked-about topics in Government and in the private industries that support Government.


The drive behind modernization comes from both external and internal sources.

External Sources:

Budgets, funding, threats, resources, initiatives, directives, and anything else that’s been created to encourage and help Agencies modernize include:

Internal Sources:

According to John Kotter, founder of Kotter International, 12-time best-selling author, and authority on leadership and change, there are two main internal goals that drive organizations to transform:

  • Increase revenue/ profits or decrease costs
  • Become more effective and efficient

For Government Agencies, there are two more factors driving transformation:

  • System security
  • System stability and reliability

Arguably, the modernization initiative is a task that is so urgent that it could eventually become a requirement for Agencies if they want to continue to function at all.

Imagine if your critical systems that rely on crop data, natural disaster data, or Defense data were run on Windows 95! And yet, this is exactly the kind of thing that is happening in Agencies who have not yet modernized.

Trying to run, manage, update, and protect software or data that sits on decades-old servers is inefficient, ineffective, unsecure, and costly. All four of these characteristics are strong driving factors for Agencies to seek transformation from within (and not merely because it’s what the Government encourages them to do).

Here are some figures to support the urgency of the modernization initiative: in 2018, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of legacy systems cost civilian agencies 78% of their $52 billion IT budgets ($40.5 billion)!

Inspired by the research and writings of Kotter International, we plan to share with you a series of articles on Agency transformation in the context of Government modernization. We hope to discuss topics like:

  • The problems that Agencies face with regards to modernization
  • The reasons that change is difficult and often fails
  • How to lead the change that’s needed to function effectively and efficiently far into the future

Kotter International has developed a proven eight-step process to accelerate change in an organization, and in these articles we will share some of the amazing ideas, procedures, and results of following this process. Our goal is to encourage you and your Agency by sharing ideas to help you overcome challenges in the path to modernization.


Topics: change management

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