The responsibilities of IT managers for local, state, and federal governments are wide and varied. They must ensure that all assets under their supervision are effective, secure, and efficient. Unfortunately, in many government organizations, IT asset managers must work with multiple tools, software systems, and varied data sources, leaving their team to work in data silos, resulting in inaccurate inventories, wasted resources, and potential security breaches.
According to the International Association of Information Technology, approximately $70-$80 billion in US government spending on IT and IT security is wasted, leaving federal agencies in danger of security breaches, lost and stolen IT hardware, outdated software, missing software patches, and other security risks. With IT asset management (ITAM), the IT asset manager can create a governance program that advances the workflow of the IT department, the security of the organization, and the productivity of its employees. Here are six reasons why establishing a governance program with an IT asset management solution is a must for government agencies.
1. Minimize compliance risks
Over the years, government agencies have had to adhere to several compliance frameworks including The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), OMB Circular A-130, The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), and the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (Clinger-Cohen Act) to avoid legal and reputational ramifications resulting from data breaches. While regulations and guidelines often change over time, a reputable IT asset management solution can ensure that your agency stays compliant despite the evolving statutes.
An IT asset management program can assist in compliance by enabling inventory control standards, accurate tracking of all assets, and a system of permission control settings. Furthermore, it also creates checks and balances to mitigate information security risks. The result of a successfully deployed ITAM is a centralized program with established policies, procedures, processes, and metrics for the government agency. Compliance issues are avoided when the IT manager has an accurate strategy for identifying the lifecycle of all tracked and tagged IT hardware assets and ghost servers that are vulnerable to hacking if left unmonitored.
2. Avoid mismanagement of federal funds
Just like many businesses, government agencies invest in technology solutions to improve efficiency and productivity. However, due to the constant evolution of technology, new solutions quickly become outdated and necessitate replacement. IT managers are therefore inundated with a variety of in-use and decommissioned IT assets. Unfortunately, without an ITAM solution, many IT managers do not have adequate inventory tracking or spreadsheet tools to handle the influx of investments.
A governance protocol resulting from the execution of an IT asset management program provides IT managers with the accurate information needed to inform financial business decisions, which can avoid the mismanagement of federal funds. Government IT departments, like other IT departments in other industries, are susceptible to "ghost servers"; servers that are not being used but are still online and wasting energy. Government agency budget allocations limit how much an agency can spend on IT projects. Towards the end of the government fiscal year, we often see government decision-makers scramble to fund projects and acquisitions to maintain their budget allocation for the upcoming year. With an ITAM program, your agency has the accurate records and data to forecast what needs to be purchased, serviced, or decommissioned, alleviating the budget scramble.
3. Establish the lifecycle management of IT hardware
Many government entities must follow guidelines for managing the lifecycle of government property, including IT hardware. For example, according to the equipment management guideline under 2 CRF 200, agencies must tag and track asset usage, condition, location, depreciation, and disposal. As part of a governance program, an ITAM vendor can work with your agency to create a process for monitoring all lifecycle stages, including tagging and tracking each asset with an RFID tag or barcode.
Asset tracking is an important management tool in each stage of the asset lifecycle, including procurement, onboarding, maintenance, and retirement. The process helps government agencies manage the ongoing expenditures, maintenance, and usage of their hardware. Without a formalized system and the opportunity for automation, human error risks can rise exponentially, wasting precious government funding.
An ITAM program automates inventory audits and provides the status of tracked items. IT managers will know in real-time which assets are under warranty, need maintenance, require security patches, or are decommissioned. A well-defined governance program includes a process for the proper disposable of decommissioned assets, preventing the removal by unauthorized personnel and the risk of data being leaked.
4. Validate accurate inventory tracking
In any government agency, whether it is a county court, city hall, or federal level, IT managers understand the importance of managing inventory to protect data integrity and facilitate better financial decisions. With an IT asset management governance program, the IT manager has visibility into the existing assets, what is being used, who uses them, and where they are located, without relying on spreadsheets and manual data. In addition, many asset management solutions provide automation capabilities customized to any government need, from federal agencies down to the local police department.
Accurate inventory tracking relies on accountability. Building a governance program creates the process, and the ITAM program is the tool that automates and verifies inventory tracking. This framework enables government entities to become more efficient and boosts their bottom line by optimizing the existing resources, maximizing asset control, and minimizing equipment loss. With accurate inventory, funds are no longer mismanaged, and the IT assets become more dependable, avoid making guesses on inventory available and the working condition. In a government entity, like the Defense department or emergency services, inaccurate inventory could mean the difference between an incident and a tragedy.
5. Ensure business continuity
IT hardware for government entities such as laptops, phones, and servers are essential and could have catastrophic consequences if they are missing, stolen, or unexpectedly stop working. Asset tracking and management solutions can ensure business continuity, avoiding overdue security patches, expired software licenses, and misplaced assets.
An effective asset management program can also assist entities like police or fire departments justify funding for essential equipment by providing accurate data on the age, derogation, and inventory of existing assets. First responders no longer have to waste precious time manually counting and tracking inventory of safety equipment. ITAM programs can also automate the ordering, maintenance, and replacement process for assets while streamlining operations by integrating the tools your agency already uses to manage inventory and assets.
A governance program paired with an integrated ITAM creates an efficient maintenance plan that increases daily operation efficiency, reduces the risk of asset malfunction, and can increase the asset lifecycle.
6. Data security
An IT asset governance program is one of the best ways to ensure data security. For a governance program to work well, processes and structure must be established to address communication, implementation, and monitoring. If the team responsible is aligned to the goals and objectives and policies and best practices are followed, it can be difficult for security breaches to occur.
In 2018, NASA, which spends approximately $1.4 billion annually on IT, revealed that employee data had been compromised when an unknown intruder gained access to one of its servers. Even offline or decommissioned servers still contain sensitive information and run the risk of falling into the wrong hands without a governance program in place to monitor the status of all IT assets.
Developing and implementing an IT asset management plan provides an active baseline to measure the longevity and security of your assets. Having the data to understand how often users delay security updates, remove or disable applications, and the average lifespan of equipment, the IT manager can effectively monitor performance, health, and risk exposure to make informed decisions that mitigate security risks.
By implementing a governance program for IT asset management, a government agency can demonstrate compliance with best practices, manage its operational status and make sure agency resources are available in emergency and everyday circumstances. The best governance programs are supported by an IT asset management solution, such as those offered by Asset Vue, which considers the sensitive nature of the assets and the department's accountability requirements. We've helped clients, including federal agencies, build ITAM governance protocols that standardize processes, such as budget projections, maintenance of service records, sourcing from suppliers, and asset tracking. As a result, your IT asset management team can provide the transparency, accountability, and security your government agency requires.