Hurd: Revised MGT Act coming 'very soon'

The chairman of the House subcommittee on federal IT says that tweaks are coming to a bill to support agency moves to the cloud.

Will Hurd
 

Rep. Will Hurd is coming back with a revised bill to fund agency IT modernization

The Modernizing Government Technology Act is going to get a second look on Capitol Hill, according to Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), the bill's lead sponsor and the chairman of a House subcommittee that deals with federal IT issues.

The bill is designed to let federal agencies establish working capital funds for IT modernization and reprogram the savings if and when they are realized. It passed the House in 2016 and was stalled in the Senate after the Congressional Budget Office said it would cost $9 billion to implement.

The bill's backers, Hurd included, were indignant at the high score, because the bill was designed to save money by helping agencies move off of expensive, out-of-support legacy systems and infrastructure to the cloud and managed services. Hurd complained at a March 28 industry event hosted by FedScoop that the CBO was "double counting" some of the money, treating reprogrammed funds as new appropriations.

He said a revised version of the bill is coming "very soon," but not this week.

"We're getting everybody comfortable with the new tweaks on the bill," Hurd said, adding that appropriators in the House and the Senate appear to be on board.

Some of those tweaks include altering the way a governmentwide modernization fund is structured. Hurd noted that "nobody thought we were going to pass a $3 billion appropriation" for a general IT modernization fund in last year's fiscal environment.

Hurd indicated in comments to reporters following his appearance that the new plan is to create the governmentwide fund with unused money from the agency modernization efforts, rather than from a large appropriated pot of money up front. Agencies will be allowed to reprogram savings enjoyed from IT modernization for their own purposes for three years, and unspent savings after that time will devolve to a general fund.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a co-sponsor of the bill is hopeful of passage.

"I believe we can work with the senate to move it onto the president’s desk," Hoyer said at the event. "And I believe this is one of those areas where the President and both parties in Congress can come together and get something done." He also expects a more favorable CBO score.

The effort has backing in the White House, said acting federal CIO Margie Graves, speaking at the same event. Graves praised the "really good momentum" for the bill on Capitol Hill. The White House is also in tune with the key MGT Act goal of shifting government IT operations to the cloud. "We'd like to move as many things as we can" to managed services, Graves said.

Graves also previewed an effort to get some of the oversight bodies that track federal IT procurement, such as the Government Accountability Office and the agency inspectors general, to incorporate a new understanding of agile processes and modern IT delivery methods into their work. Meetings are taking place with the goal of giving oversight an agile upgrade, she indicated.

"It's time to make the measurement match what we're trying to deliver," Graves said.

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