Non-CFO Act agencies are not included in the legislation that seeks to update legacy systems, which could create a two-tiered modernization effort.
Small agencies are not included in a potential linchpin of federal IT modernization -- the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which would set aside money for agencies to move less secure legacy IT systems to the cloud.
The MGT Act passed the House, and backers in the Senate plan to release a companion bill after the election. The legislation could pave the way for appropriators to set aside billions of dollars for agencies to update old technology.
Kirit Amin, CIO at the International Trade Commission, said he would like small agencies to be included in the legislation. Only the 24 large agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act are eligible for the $3 billion IT modernization pool in the MGT Act.
"Small agencies need a seat at the table" in discussions about the bill and with IT modernization leaders across government, such as the CIO Council, Amin said, elaborating on a presentation he gave at ACT-IAC's recent Executive Leadership Conference.
A Capitol Hill source said the portion of the MGT Act that covers working capital funds for legacy IT systems is written along the same lines as the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act and the Data Center Optimization Initiative. Smaller agencies could be written into the MGT Act in theory, but "we wouldn't want to circumvent FITARA."
Amin said other programs have helped smaller agencies with cybersecurity and legacy systems without breaking their budgets, such as the General Services Administration's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program for cloud solutions and the Department of Homeland Security's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program.
More such centrally offered services from larger, more experienced agencies could go a long way toward helping small and independent agencies keep up with a rapidly evolving threat landscape, Amin added.
He said a sustained effort to keep attention on IT modernization is essential so the momentum to pass the MGT Act is not lost during the upcoming transition. Despite the uncertainty, career federal IT managers must continue to push for modernization, he added.
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