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Research Recommends Innovation to Boost Federal IT Success

Federal IT leaders identify lack of funding, employee skill gaps and lack of organizational buy-in as the top three constraints in advancing the use of innovative new technologies within their agencies, according to research conducted by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and Accenture Federal Services.

A report on the research, “Addressing the Fiscal Challenge,” shows how federal government leaders are responding to a number of operational and strategic challenges in the current budget-constrained environment, including continuous advancements in technology, competing business requirements, compliance mandates and an aging workforce that creates knowledge gaps. The research was based on a survey of 100 individuals in IT and finance leadership roles throughout the federal government.

To help address continuing budget constraints, the Obama Administration issued the Federal Information Technology FY 2013 Budget Priorities. The priorities try to maximize return on investment of federal IT, close the productivity gap and implement 21st Century government while continuing to focus on business and citizen interaction and national priorities. Innovative trends to assist in this were identified by survey respondents as shared services, mobility and analytics/big data.

“Innovation is the key for federal agencies that must adapt and overcome in the face of tightening budget constraints,” said Tom Greiner, who leads Accenture Federal Services’ technology practice. “By looking at old problems in new ways and adopting technologies, methodologies and best practices, federal agencies can rise to today’s challenges.”

Survey respondents saw reduced operational costs (63 percent), more accurate and timely information (58 percent) and increased workforce productivity (53 percent) as three top benefits in adopting innovative trends. However, more than 52 percent of survey respondents cited budget constraints as the biggest obstacle to achieving that goal. Organizational buy-in also was identified as a barrier to the adoption of trends like shared services, according to 45 percent of those surveyed.

About 72 percent of respondents identified data analytics as a highly valued technology that could help them achieve their organizational strategies and goals, with a little more than one third (39 percent) of leaders saying they feel their organizations are able to meet data requirements around auditability and transparency.

“Sifting through volumes of financial data, federal agencies strive for transparency,” said Relmond Van Daniker, executive director, AGA. “The best way to meet goals, to handle these IT needs and budget pressures will be innovative thinking.”

When it comes to meeting auditability and transparency requirements, 22 percent of respondents identified talent acquisition as a key challenge. Respondents identified softer skills such as broader business skills (32 percent) and creative thinking (36 percent) as gaps in their current resources. To combat the challenge of recruiting and retaining talented resources, 27 percent of respondents said their agencies plan to increase employee training. In addition, IT leaders cited cross-training (60 percent), extension of existing systems (48 percent) and leveraging shared services (38 percent) as having the potential to maximize efficiency with a reduced workforce.

Methodology

The survey team distributed an online questionnaire of 24 questions to members of the information technology and financial communities between May and August of 2013. They received 100 responses from individuals in IT and finance leadership roles throughout the federal government. The team also met with 10 federal government CIOs to gain additional context and anecdotal evidence regarding the survey topics. Copies of the online questionnaires can be found at AGA Technology Survey.

About AGA

AGA is the premier Association in advancing government accountability. We support the careers and professional development of government financial professionals working in federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector and academia. Founded in 1950, AGA has a long history as a thought leader for the government accountability profession. Through education, research, publications, certification and conferences, AGA promotes transparency and accountability in government. www.agacgfm.org

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 275,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

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