The US Feds have announced that they plan to reduce the range of software that they buy. This is a fundamental and necessary step ahead of re-engineering backend systems – you want a stable, known baseline that you can upgrade from. The fewer systems in the baseline, the easier it is to consolidate. You can also start to amalgamate at a hosting level, reducing security and network spends (just how many firewalls does any government need?). Given that the US have a budget of more than $50 billion for IT I would imagine that they’d be looking to make some serious saves here. A small hump in costs for the replacement in year one and two and then dramatic reductions – with the suppliers held by the short and curlies to deliver. This latter point is pretty crucial – a failure in a system that is just one of many just affects that department, but a failure in one that supports 5,10,15 or 20 departments or agencies is a whole different world. I wonder if the suppliers are truly ready to deliver fully mission critical software to support this level of critical infrastructure.