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Data Suggests One-Third of State IT Systems are Old and Broken

A new analysis sheds some light on how big the problems are and where they're the worst.

About one-third of major IT systems that state governments use today are old and broken, and child support systems are especially in trouble.

That’s simplifying things a bit, but it’s true, according to data from the Center for Digital Government.* The center has internally released some results of an analysis it ran on five types of IT systems in place in every state in the U.S. The analysis looked at how many of those were “legacy” systems.

In this context, a legacy system is defined as “a business-critical system that was implemented prior to Oct. 25, 2001, and is currently unable to meet user demands.”

Of the 250 IT systems the center studied, 33 percent met that definition. Another 14 percent were going through a modernization process, and the center was unable to categorize 11 percent.

That leaves 42 percent of systems that are working and younger than 17 years old.

The data doesn’t cover all IT systems used at the state level, and obviously ignores those in use by local governments, but since it covers 250 systems it is a pretty good picture of the state of government IT systems overall.

The five types of systems included in the analysis were child support systems; department of motor vehicles systems for things like vehicle registration and titling; integrated eligibility systems; Medicaid management information systems (MMIS); and unemployment insurance systems.

There were marked differences in how many of each type of system were considered to be legacy. About 68 percent of child support systems are old and broken, compared with just 28 percent of MMIS systems.


*The Center for Digital Government is owned by Government Technology's parent company, e.Republic.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.