By the numbers

Federal IT investment planners don't usually wear black tie and sip dry martinis as they evaluate systems purchases. But they can use a statistical technique named after an exclusive gambling center when planning projects.

The CIO Council recommends using value-measuring methodology to calculate costs, benefits and values of IT investments. In evaluating projects' costs and risks, the methodology uses Monte Carlo simulations, named after the city in Monaco known for its casinos.

The simulations are similar to those governing the possible outcomes from slot machines. They provide numerous scenarios by repeatedly picking random values for uncertain variables, such as the individual cost elements of a project.

A Monte Carlo simulation typically consists of 2,500 to 10,000 versions of the calculation.


  • 2020 Government Innovation Awards
    Government Innovation Awards -

    21 Public Sector Innovation award winners

    These projects at the federal, state and local levels show just how transformative government IT can be.

  • Federal 100 Awards
    cheering federal workers

    Nominations for the 2021 Fed 100 are now being accepted

    The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31.

Stay Connected