While much talk around information technology (IT) is around organizations and businesses in the private sector, the public sector—specifically governments—typically lags behind. So which areas of IT are government IT decision-makers focusing their efforts?

According to a recent study by IT research firm Gartner (IT), government IT spending will remain flat in 2013, projecting spending to total $449.5 billion—a slight decrease from 2012.

Gartner indicated that mobile technologies, IT modernization and cloud computing are the top three focus areas for investment in 2013. The IT research firm also pointed to professional services and Big Data as areas of strong interest.

"Government organizations have increased Big Data spending for improper payment systems, indicating the desire to tackle fraud, waste and abuse within agencies, as well as target upfront errors in revenue collection," Gartner Research Director Christine Arcaris said in her prepared remarks.

Many agencies are assessing how to manage and store Big Data, she added, but they have not tackled challenges associated with shifting massive amounts of data into one platform.

A recent MeriTalk survey confirmed a need for Big Data not only in the private sector but in the public sector as well, reporting that 70 percent of IT executives believe leveraging Big Data in five years will be critical to fulfilling government objectives.

The report, "Smarter Uncle Sam: The Big Data Forecast," surveyed 150 federal IT executives and found that Big Data has the potential to transform government by increasing efficiency and deepening insight, but that's not all.

According to U.S. federal IT decision-makers surveyed in the report, Big Data will save nearly $500 billion—or 14 percent of agency budgets—across the federal government.

To prepare for Big Data, nearly one-fourth of federal IT executives have launched at least one Big Data initiative, including investing in IT systems and solutions to improve data capture, processing and storage.

"Big Data’s different from other IT initiatives—because it’s not an IT initiative," said MeriTalk founder Steve O'Keeffe in his prepared remarks. "If assuming the same behavior and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, Big Data may provide the common-sense therapy we need to make better decisions in government."