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On the Senate side, the Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology Act of 2016 still has not seen activity in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.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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Reader comments

Fri, Sep 23, 2016 Ashley P. Moore, MBCI, CEAP™, CPIC-P™ , Stafford, Va

"We have too many old things on our network." We can extend this statement to go beyond just the system of systems but also to agency leadership and CIO's. The fact that federal government has to pass a bill to get agency leaders and CIO's to do their jobs is really an embarrassment. It shows federal agencies unwillingness to take our national threats seriously and use the tools and processes already in place (i.e. IT Capital Planning and Investment Control and Enterprise Risk Management). Department of Defense is all about "Accountability, a Unified Effort to Reporting, and Audits". It seems to me based on the past few years of output by EOP and OMB that they are headed down that path or should I say--maturing an outdated management system model. Personally, I'd like to see a one stop shop for reporting, a reporting system that everyone has to use. In DoD it is called Department of Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS). See: If you take the time to review this year’s OMB Memos ( ) and facts/figures on federal government IT DashBoard, and then DHS FY 17 FISMA Metrics; It clearly illustrates agency leadership and CIOs are not taking the necessary actions as required. Their intent is useful yet they are disjointed silos of excellence…our approach has to be a Unified Effort—one stop shop. The current approaches are allowing massive loopholes in the federal process to protect and maintain the IT infrastructure they are entrusted to manage—and agency leadership, GCs an CIOs know it. The OPM cyber-security data breach debacle is “the” prime example when federal agencies get too comfortable with themselves and do not understand the biggest 21st century global threat since the Cold War—that being Cyber Warfare. [Reference:]. The government of the United States of America has never been more vulnerable to cyberattacks. No agency appears safe or can assume that they are safe. In recent data breaches, hackers took information from the United States Postal Service; the State Department; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Internal Revenue Service; and even the White House. An agency CIO must be smart about the way he/she acquires, deploys, maintains, and monitors the threats and risks to the information technology resources and capabilities they are entrusted with. Federal agencies should never be incentivized to do their “Public Service” jobs and protect the things they swore to do when taking the jobs.

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