PSC: Fed IT spend is flat, but MGT is the wild card

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Federal agencies will spend about $86.4 billion on IT in fiscal year 2018, but "transformative" funding contained in pending IT modernization legislation could help address CIO concerns, according to a new federal market forecast.

Cybersecurity, said Robert Haas, team lead on the Professional Services Council's Federal IT Budget Outlook study, was the primary concern of the dozens of top federal IT officials surveyed by the organization for the study.

Those officials' cybersecurity concerns went far beyond cyber hygiene and antivirus protection, into stronger proactive measures that they should be considering, Hass said.

Those concerns  could drive better alignment between the increasingly important business impacts of IT and CIO organizations, he said.

Haas noted that the White House's cybersecurity executive order in May prioritized cyber training, shared services and cloud adoption. Although Haas said it was difficult to identify the federal government's total fiscal 2018 budget for cybersecurity, he pegged fiscal 2018's federal IT security spending at about $5 billion, an approximate 10 percent increase over fiscal 2016.

Network modernization efforts, such as the working capital provisions in the Modernizing Government Technology Act could offer a new way to get at security concerns by helping wipe away nagging and inefficient legacy IT systems.

MGT has a path to passage in Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Along with physical IT system modernization, federal IT executives see shared services as a way to get more bang for their IT money in the coming year, according to Haas and federal IT market analyst Deirdre Murray.

"Shared services," said Murray in a presentation at the PSC conference, are set to "have a tremendous impact" on federal IT.

DHS Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa said the pending modernization legislation promises real change. The legislation, she said, offers a way to "seize the opportunity to get real solutions" in place, instead of patchwork remedies that simply keep systems running.

The catch, she said, is agencies have to understand how the legislation will work. The bill would require agencies to repay the money they will lobby to get their hands on. Understanding "cost avoidance" generated by new tech solutions, such as shared services, and savings generated by technology updates could be tricky for federal agencies.

Correction: This article was updated Nov. 8 to reflect total unclassified federal IT expenditures for fiscal year 2018.

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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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