In brief

In brief

  • Research shows how federal agencies can scale innovation and achieve real value with Future Systems.
  • Federal Leaders embrace new technologies faster and more deliberately, scale more quickly, and integrate with people and processes better.
  • Two-thirds of Leaders are satisfied with technology ROI vs. 16% of Late Adopters.

Across the U.S. government, federal agencies are investing significantly in IT technologies. Yet most agencies are not capturing full value from their investments.

There are varied reasons for this. Budget and administrative constraints, for example, encourage agencies to pursue piecemeal approaches to IT modernization, which tend to be less effective. Spending on the maintenance of legacy IT systems has ballooned as a result (During 2014–19, such spending rose by 13%, to consume nearly 80% of the U.S. government's total IT spending).

Our research indicates that this tendency—deploying technologies in pockets, with limited tools for scaling and delivering sustained impact—is very common in both the public and private sectors. However, CIOs and other senior IT executives can learn from the federal agencies that are getting their IT modernization efforts right.


During 2014-19, spending on maintenance of legacy IT systems rose by 13%, to consume nearly 80% of the U.S. government’s total IT spending.

These Leaders are replacing stove-piped applications and operating models with open, standards-based, IT ecosystems—what Accenture calls "Future Systems"—that can scale innovations repeatedly and foster strategic agility. Three broad lessons emerge from our research into what Leaders are doing differently.

The first is that Leaders adopt new technologies sooner (and in more deliberate fashion); and they reinvest more frequently. Second, Leaders focus on how to scale new technologies across their agencies. Third, Leaders prepare better for the challenges of pairing new technologies with the people and processes already in place.

Federal agencies that heed these lessons, to master Future Systems, will fulfill their missions more effectively—improving the lives of citizens and making better use of taxpayer dollars.

To learn how other sectors performed, read the global Accenture report – Full Value. Full Stop. – for additional insight on IT modernization.

Kimberly Aftergood

Managing Director – Accenture Federal Services, National Security Portfolio, Mission Integration & Special Capabilities

Dave McClure

Director – Accenture Federal Services, Technology Advisory


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Our Future Systems research includes our largest enterprise systems survey for the public and private sectors. We interviewed 8,356 executives globally, including 353 within the U.S. federal government. Learn what these federal leaders had to say.

Full Report

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Modernize with impact

Read the full report with key research findings and analysis from our experts.



Modernize with impact

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This presentation provides a quick overview of the federal study with key research findings.

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