Hurd still not sold on IT modernization fund

The Texas techie told C-SPAN he thinks modernizing legacy systems is a critical issue, but he isn’t supporting the Obama administration’s $3.1 billion IT modernization fund.

Will Hurd

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is worried about obsolete government tech, but he won't throw his weight behind the Obama administration's proposed IT modernization fund.

"The concept is a valuable concept," acknowledged Hurd, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's IT subcommittee. "We need to make sure that our agencies are modernizing."

But Hurd, speaking to C-SPAN in a June 24 episode of "The Communicators," balked at the fund's price tag.

"When you're already spending $80 billion a year [government-wide] on purchasing IT goods and services, and when 80 percent of that's on legacy systems, it's hard to justify another $3 billion," Hurd said. "Why not use that $80 billion more successfully?"

The fund, as designed and touted by the likes of federal CIO Tony Scott, would not be a one-time injection of cash.

Rather, agencies could apply for funding, and after finishing a modernization project with the fund's support, they'd repay the funding using the savings that flow from modern, more efficient systems.

Hurd proposed flipping the arrangement around, letting CIOs use their savings in the first place.

"Moving forward on modernization is absolutely important, but this is something that should be a day-to-day thing for our CIOs and our…chief information security officers," he said.

CIOs should be able to bank the money they save in one year through, for instance, data center consolidation, and then use the cash in following years to fund modernization pushes, Hurd argued.

Realizing and then using IT savings within a single fiscal year is nigh impossible, he added.

Hurd's latest resistance to the fund indicates it could go nowhere fast.

A bill that would establish the fund has been languishing under the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's consideration since April, and Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has said he is "warming to the idea" but "not there yet." 

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