Government Agency IT Modernization
Myth vs. Fact

Uncovering the Truth Behind Modernization Efforts

May 4, 2021

In a previous post, DOMA discussed some of the technology challenges that are holding state and Local government agencies back. In this blog, we will take it a step further and explore some of the misconceptions surrounding digital transformation for federal, state, and local governments. 

Modern cloud solutions are not as secure as internally managed data centers.

Security/compliance challenges are one of the top concerns for IT professionals in every industry. However, the need to meet information security compliance protocols is especially important for government agencies because they are often trusted to protect the interests (and data) of their citizens. The truth is that cloud solutions are no more or less secure than on-premise solutions because people tend to be the weak link in both strategies. Whether it’s not letting a stranger tailgate you into the office or ensuring your login credentials are kept secure, security breaches are frequently the result of user error, not the tools themselves failing. The key to strong data compliance is ensuring your team is properly trained, that protocols are regularly audited and that both your physical and cybersecurity systems are consistently revised to address new threats.   

Despite some initial hesitation, government agencies are beginning to see the benefits of cloud tools in improving security. When surveyed, 41% of CIOs (Chief Information Officers) in state and local government agencies have used analytical tools, AI, machine learning, etc. to manage their cybersecurity program. Ultimately, many government agencies and programs are already using both the commercial cloud and Govcloud environments. 

Our current systems are so entrenched that it won’t be worth it to change them. 

It may feel like it’s too complicated to migrate to the Cloud or to onboard an entirely new technology tool, and the truth is migration is challenging. In spite of this, modernization’s benefits outweigh the difficulties long term. Legacy systems simply do not keep pace with changing customer needs or expectations. When these systems are critical to your daily operations and familiar to your team, uprooting them can seem even more onerous. Keeping these systems in place may seem easier, but it’s not cheaper, more effective, or particularly secure.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO),  around 80 percent of the $90 billion allotted for federal IT programs in 2019 was used to operate and maintain existing IT investments. Additionally, “Among the 10 most critical legacy systems [within federal agencies] that GAO identified as in need of modernization, several use outdated languages, have unsupported hardware and software, and are operating with known security vulnerabilities.”  

The shift to a digital service model for government services is temporary. After COVID-19 concerns subside we will return to a more analog model of service delivery. 

It’s quickly becoming clear that citizens prefer a digital service model. 76% of state governments introduced chatbots as a strategy to cope with staffing challenges and increased demand in response to COVID-19. Automation in the form of mobile apps, body temperature scanners, and even fraud detection was deployed over the past year by many states in response to the global pandemic. 

Past studies have supported the notion that technology solutions introduced during crises often remain in place long after the immediate danger has passed. A whopping 98% of CIOs stated that delivering a better online experience for citizens was a primary driver behind establishing digital services. As customers come to expect the convenience of digital government services, it’s unlikely things will ever return to the way they were before the pandemic. 

Agency Modernization should focus primarily on customer/ citizen-facing technologies. 

This misconception is a two-parter. First, it’s important to understand that modernization is not just about implementing the latest tech. It requires your whole organization to adopt a new way of thinking. Modernizing your culture, procedures, and approach to problem-solving are all parts of Digital Transformation. Without the scaffolding of a new mindset, you may find you’ve spent a lot of time, resources, and energy onboarding a tool that your team will refuse to use.

Second, IT initiatives should address more than just the technologies and procedures your customers interact with. Internal operations stand to benefit just as much (and sometimes more) from more modernized systems. If you focus on modernizing the front of house but do nothing to re-configure the inner workings of your agency you compromise the foundation of your digital transformation.


Myths surrounding modernization often share a common theme – a lack of clarity regarding the digital transformation process itself. Whether you previously believed one of these myths or not, the truth is that digital transformation is bigger than one digital initiative, one stakeholder, and one outcome. Like perfection, it’s something to strive for that you never fully achieve. Staying grounded in a sensible plan with a clear understanding of how it will benefit your agency isn’t always easy, but it’s what gets you through the long hours of planning, training, and implementation that are sure to come with any modernization effort.

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How can DOMA help?

Government agencies face a host of challenges when it comes to modernization. Budgetary concerns, challenges of scale, confusing mandates all add to the complexity of digital transformation. Lasting change isn’t something that happens overnight and maintaining momentum isn’t easy without the right guidance in place. Choosing an experienced partner can make a world of difference in a successful modernization plan. DOMA has experience working with both federal, state, and local governments to deploy the latest cloud, automation, and document management strategies.

About DOMA- Powered by Tech, Driven by People

DOMA Technologies (DOMA) is a software development and digital transformation company whose mission is to change customer lives by lightening their workload through faster and more targeted access to their data. Since 2000, our team of 200+ experts has helped businesses navigate all aspects of the digital world. We are a dedicated strategic partner for the federal government and private sector clients at every stage of their unique digital transformation journey.

Director of Communication


Danielle Wethington
Director of Communications

Survey Source:

2020 State CIO Survey

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