Moran pushes MGT in the Senate

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) 2011 official portrait 

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is advocating for passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act in the Senate.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) got interested in government technology modernization as the chairman of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee. He's moved on from that post, but is taking a second try at moving the Modernizing Government Technology Act through the Senate. He spoke to FCW about the bill on May 25. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Let me ask you about the letter to leaders of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Have you heard anything back and what are you hoping to get accomplished?

Well, what we're hoping to get accomplished is passage of MGT. In addition to sending the letter, I've had a conversation with Chairman [Ron] Johnson indicating the letter was coming, requesting favorable consideration of our legislation, asking to be considered by the committee. I certainly have no commitment to that, but certainly no indication that there was a problem in our request. We'll continue to work with the Homeland Security Committee, Chairman Johnson and the ranking member to see if we can advance this cause in a timely fashion. It's the kind of legislation that you'd expect to have a bright future.

It's difficult to pass anything in the United States Congress, but here we have something that is really just good government. Although it's often said that items of legislation save money, this is one that has a great opportunity to save taxpayer dollars and improve our national security, so it should be broadly supported. Bipartisan, good public policy, strong support in the House, and strong support in the administration -- I hope all those things team up for a positive outcome.

In general, do appropriators resist revolving funds? Would members rather touch the money every year rather than let the agencies keep it?

Our experience from the last Congress as well as my conversations with Appropriations Committee staff is that this is looked on favorably. With the change in the legislation, the language of the bill, and the resulting change in the CBO score, I wouldn't expect significant opposition from my colleagues in the appropriations world.

There's funding for a central IT fund in the Trump budget, and mention of the MGT Act. What was your reaction to that?

I'm very pleased with the administration's recognition of this legislation. This is a budget that is generally reducing spending. For us to receive the nod of the Administration helps us in conversations with colleagues about how valuable this legislation is as seen by an administration, whose budget generally is reducing spending, willing to invest in this legislation, the results of this legislation.

You and Sen. [Tom] Udall have moved on from the FSGG appropriations subcommittee. What does it say that you're still teaming up on this bill?

What was pleasing to me then, and I have staff who are very strong on these issues, it's been staff who piqued the interest on my part. What I discovered was that this concept, which now has become legislation, really can work to save money and was really well received with people who were interested in, what I would call, good government, a more efficient process, less costs.

The added benefit or the added emphasis on my part is the constant presence of cyber and data security attacks. Even the WannaCry ransomware attack certainly indicated that this is important and valuable.

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

Tue, May 30, 2017

I work in government IT and can tell you that government should Never be on the cutting edge of tech. We need systems that have been proven secure and reliable. There are too many unknowns about new tech; too many possibilities for vulnerabilities. Unless you want more of the people’s information, and more government employee info exposed, hacked, and stolen, you’ll spend more on training your IT staff, and let us worry about when to move onto new technology.

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