Leaked budget document shows MGT funding in place

Shutterstock image (by haveseen): a puzzle of hundred dollar bills.

The Trump administration appears to be putting money where its mouth is when it comes to upgrading legacy IT at agencies.

The 2018 budget calls for $228 million for a technology modernization fund at the General Services Administration, according to a budget spreadsheet leaked to the group Third Way. The budget document covering proposed discretionary spending across the government is dated May 8. The group released the document along with a statement denouncing the administration's budget priorities.

If the document is genuine and up to date, it suggests the technology refresh funding in the Modernizing Government Technology Act passed by the House is an administration priority. Official release of the budget is set for May 23.

Requests to GSA and the Office of Management and Budget to confirm the funding amount were not immediately answered.

The MGT Act heads next to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in the Senate. A committee spokesperson told FCW that "committee staff are reviewing the bill."

Two Senate appropriators are backing the effort – Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

"Maintaining old IT systems is a security risk and costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. In the Senate, I'll work hard to pass this bill and see it signed into law, to ensure that our government is getting better service at a better value for American taxpayers," Udall told FCW in an email.

Another Senate source told FCW that HSGAC and the appropriators are working together on the bill, but that it's too early to tell as to whether leadership will make the effort a priority. On the House side, the bill had strong support from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

Within the administration, acting federal CIO Margie Graves said earlier this week that the Office of Management and Budget continues to work with agencies in anticipation of a modernization fund, though she declined to predict what the Senate would do. OMB will continue "testing the waters" while waiting to see what comes out of Congress, Graves said.

While the new modernization fund is potentially a shot in the arm for the federal IT community, other governmentwide IT activities don't fare quite as well. The federal CIO operation comes in for a $2 million reduction, from $27 million in the 2017 appropriation bill to $25 million in the 2018 budget request. Similarly, the Federal Citizens Services Fund drops from $55.9 million in 2017 to $53.7 million in the 2018 budget request.

Because the spreadsheet is organized by budget accounts, the impact on IT spending isn't readily apparent across the board.

However, it appears that cyber spending at the Department of Homeland Security is in for a major boost. The Trump administration is requesting $1.8 billion for the National Protection and Programs Directorate in 2018, up from $1.37 billion in the 2017 appropriation.

At the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is seeing a boost in health care dollars under the Trump budget, the IT budget is set to shrink slightly. The Office of Information and Technology, which gets its own budget line, is funded at $4.05 billion, down from $4.27 billion in the FY2017 appropriation that passed in the last Congress.

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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