By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said Wednesday the U.S. government needs a major overhaul of information technology systems and should take steps to better protect data and accelerate efforts to use cloud-based technology.
"Difficulties in agency prioritization of resources in support of IT modernization, ability to procure services quickly, and technical issues have resulted in an unwieldy and out-of-date federal IT infrastructure," the White House said in a report.
The report outlined a timeline over the next year for IT reforms and a detailed implementation plan. The report said one unnamed cloud-based email provider has agreed to assist in keeping track of government spending on cloud-based email migration.
President Donald Trump in April signed an executive order creating a new technology council to overhaul the U.S. government’s information technology systems.
The report said the federal government must eliminate barriers to using commercial cloud-based technology. "Federal agencies must consolidate their IT investments and place more trust in services and infrastructure operated by others," the report found. Government agencies often pay dramatically different prices for the same IT item, the report said, sometimes three or four times as much.
Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, Alphabet Corp’s Google and Intel Corp are making big investments in the fast-growing cloud computing business.
A 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office report estimated the U.S. government spends more than $80 billion on IT annually but said spending has fallen by $7.3 billion since 2010.
In 2015, there were at least 7,000 separate IT investments by the U.S. government. The $80 billion figure does not include Defense Department classified IT systems and 58 independent executive branch agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.
The GAO report said U.S. government IT investments "are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported."
The GAO report found some agencies are using systems that have components that are at least 50 years old.
Agencies typically buy their own IT systems independently, the White House said Wednesday. A "lack of common standards and lack of coordination drives costly redundancies and inefficiencies."
The White House said in June that most of the government's 6,100 data centers can be consolidated and moved to a cloud-based storage system.
Various U.S. government systems have been the target of hacking and data breaches in recent years. In September, the Securities and Exchange Commission, America’s chief stock market regulator, said cybercriminals may have used data stolen last year.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)