House passes IT modernization bill

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The House of Representatives today passed the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2016, a bill to authorize funds to replace legacy IT, on a voice vote.

Lead sponsor Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IT Subcommittee, cited the hack of Office of Personnel Management systems as a driving force behind the new bill.

A yearlong investigation of the hack identified "a pressing need for federal agencies to modernize legacy IT in order to mitigate the cybersecurity threat inherent in unsupported, end-of-life IT systems and applications," Hurd said a speech on the House floor. "We have too many old things on our network."

The bill combines a cloud funding measure that originated in the Senate and was pushed in the House by Hurd with an Obama administration-backed bill that calls for a $3.1 billion governmentwide revolving fund to retire and replace legacy systems.

The MGT Act does not appropriate new money, but it does authorize working capital funds at the 24 agencies governed by the Chief Financial Officers Act to drive IT modernization and bank the savings achieved from retiring expensive legacy IT and shifting to managed services. It also authorizes a governmentwide revolving fund to be managed by the General Services Administration.

"The federal government must come into the 21st century. We owe it to the people we serve," co-sponsor Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said. "We need to streamline the management of IT assets. We need to make strategic and wise investments, and we need to have a schedule of replacement for legacy systems. We need to encrypt and protect against cyberattacks for the sake of the American people."

The bill leaves it to appropriators to work out the dollars and cents of the agency and governmentwide funds. A spokesperson for Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told FCW that the target for the governmentwide fund is still $3 billion.

On the Senate side, the Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology Act of 2016 still has not seen activity in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. When the combined House bill was introduced on Sept. 15, a staffer for sponsor Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) told FCW that work is underway to see how an IT modernization bill could pass the Senate. The spokesperson said Moran is "encouraged by the House's swift action on the bill."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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