The New York Times wrote recently about the \u201curgency effect\u201d \u2013 the way that our minds prioritize items that immediately satisfy our desire to get things done, leaving our larger but seemingly less urgent needs waiting.\nWe have a tendency to become comfortable with our surroundings and use quick fixes to mask larger tasks that require more time, energy and often funding to complete.\nTranslate that to a government agency\u2019s approach to technology and you might have a looming problem. These legacy system habits and routines have limited operational efficiency and likely put applications and the network at risk.\nThe federal government spends roughly 80 percent of its IT budget on operating and maintaining legacy systems, instead of modernizing to enable new types of solutions and programs. In fact, GAO reports show O&M spending on federal IT increased and investment in modernization decreased by $7.3 billion from 2010 to 2017.\nTurning this around requires investing in long-term technology strategies that mirror an agency\u2019s comfort with habit and routine.\nTo break down the idea of long-term technology investment for agencies, compare this change in IT to a home investment \u2013 when to update it, when it needs remodeling and when to completely modernize your space.\nApproaching a re-design\nThe passage of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act in late 2017 kick started new thoughts on IT spending for some government agencies. But there is no simple purchasing decision that an IT leader can make to reform a technology system, and there is no \u201crip and replace\u201d option in home owning that comes without creating a new place to live.\nThe first step for government agencies to consider is to map out priority investments that are vital to mission success, and then develop a strategy for modernization. This approach is similar to a re-design that occurs while a family still occupies a home.\nThree initial investments I\u2019ve found to be critical for agencies are: centralizing the network, up-front planning and critical for success \u2013 security.\nCentralizing the network\nWhen agencies look at the way their network is configured, they usually find that it\u2019s either centralized or arranged in silos. Think about central air or an HVAC in a house as opposed to individual air conditioning units on the floor or in windows. Central air is more efficient and is easier to manage.\nApply this \u201ccentral air\u201d concept to an agency\u2019s network and you get enterprise-level interoperability; the IT team can execute with an enterprise-view, diagnosing issues at-large and making a simple fix that affects the entire network at once, as opposed to disparate systems.\nThe choice between centralized or siloed services is for an agency to make on its own, but transitioning programs from more rigid applications to those that are distributed and scalable will help to support a much healthier network.\nUpfront planning\nIt\u2019s no secret that budget constraints are one of the biggest challenges for IT teams. One question CIOs ask potential MGT fund investments is will the investment contribute to short- or long-term savings?\nMany homeowners today are looking at more long-term investments like solar panels. While there may be an increase in short-term spending, home owners reap larger, long-term rewards by investing in a future-ready, energy-saving strategy. The same idea applies to government agencies when you look at their potential transition from data storage to the cloud.\nCloud-ready infrastructures allow agencies to be adaptive \u2013 providing long-term benefits. It\u2019s not a one-time deployment, it\u2019s investing in a long-term solution that will provide a scalable platform for future advances.\nThe more agencies can invest in up-front planning for things like cloud-ready infrastructures, the more they will prevent quick fixes and allocation of additional funding on older tech.\nSecuring the core\nThe most pressing concern for government agencies today is how to protect their systems against incursions; most importantly, cybersecurity breaches. In 2017, the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average cost of a data breach worldwide comes in at $3.6 million, but the risk to agencies is more than financial loss, it\u2019s an erosion of the public\u2019s trust and confidence in government.\nIf you are remodeling your home and installing a security system, you wouldn\u2019t focus just on the room where the most valuables were kept. You\u2019d protect the front door, back door, windows, etc., so any invasion is detected and neutralized before ever reaching your most valuable assets. The same metaphor applies to government agencies. Agencies need to secure all corners of the infrastructure \u2013 pushing risk-management out to the edge with multiple alerts and preventative measures being engaged before reaching the core network.\nUsing a network-as-sensor approach, agencies can track all activity happening throughout environments and identify anomalies, including unusual user behaviors, to protect against threats. This approach can block malware before it enters the network, uncover suspicious code hiding in encrypted data and even analyze that data to better understand threats and improve future defenses.\nWhat lies ahead?\nApproaching network modernization using a strategy similar to a home remodel is one way to future-proof for the long-term. With a thoughtful plan and a strong and secure foundation, agency leaders can build the capabilities they need to meet current needs and future expectations from employees and citizens.