Policy

Scott ties two legacy IT efforts together

Federal CIO Tony Scott

Federal CIO Tony Scott thinks there's room for more than one legacy IT modernization bill.

Can two IT bills before Congress play nice together?

U.S. CIO Tony Scott thinks so. He's a leading proponent of the Obama administration-backed IT Modernization Fund, which would create a $3.1 billion pot of money outside the appropriations process for agencies to upgrade aging, insecure technology. But Scott said a competing measure, which relies on the traditional appropriations process, could work together.

The Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology (MOVE IT) Act "could be a good companion to the ITMF," he said at FCW’s Getting the Edge on Cyber Threats Summit on Aug. 23.

ITMF and MOVE IT have been seen as rival plans to address the growing problem of legacy IT systems. Unlike ITMF, which would allow agencies to withdraw and then repay money to replace old IT, the MOVE IT Act would enable agencies to create their own working capital funds to upgrade and modernize their IT.

Scott said combining the two could result in a more viable approach to upgrading or replacing legacy systems.

He added that the end goal should not necessarily be a complete overhaul of all legacy systems but rather a shift in attitude among federal leaders that IT is a vitally important component of their agencies' operations. Scott said whatever combination of ITMF and MOVE IT might result, agency CIOs should focus their attention on the ongoing, continuous need to address IT.

The Office of Management and Budget plans to issue guidance for agencies on how to deal with legacy IT, he said. Although he declined to provide a date for the guidance's release, he said "it won't be ITMF-specific," as has been rumored.

"It will be good practices," he said, and will cover CIOs' responsibilities for addressing legacy IT systems and offer outlines of replacement plans.

With the election fast approaching, Scott said he could not predict when either ITMF or the MOVE IT Act might see progress, however.

"I'm told that as long as a conversation is going, it's a good thing," he said. Our teams are talking [on the MOVE IT Act]. There is no good and bad here. They're all attempts to solve a hard problem."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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