Accession Number:



Information Technology: Agencies Need to Develop and Implement Modernization Plans for Critical Legacy Systems

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Testimony]

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



In June 2019, GAO identified 10 critical federal information technology IT legacy systems that were most in need of modernization. These legacy systems provided vital support to agencies missions. According to the agencies, these legacy systems ranged from about 8 to 51 years old and, collectively, cost about 337 million annually to operate and maintain. Several of the systems used older languages, such as Common Business Oriented Language COBOL. GAO has previously reported that reliance on such languages has risks, such as a rise in procurement and operating costs, and a decrease in the availability of individuals with the proper skill sets. Further, several of the legacy systems were operating with known security vulnerabilities and unsupported hardware and software. Of the 10 agencies responsible for these legacy systems, GAO reported in June 2019 that seven agencies the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, the Interior, the Treasury as well as the Office of Personnel Management Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration had documented plans for modernizing the systems see table. Of the seven agencies with plans, only the Departments of the Interiors and Defenses modernization plans included all of the key elements identified in best practices milestones, a description of the work necessary to complete the modernization, and a plan for the disposition of the legacy system. The other five agencies lacked complete modernization plans. The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation did not have documented modernization plans.


Subject Categories:

  • Information Science
  • Computer Systems Management and Standards

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]