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GSA Offers Playbook to Upgrade Legacy IT

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth // GSA

Fresh after the Office of Management and Budget’s new data center policy, the General Services Administration today released new guidance that further exemplifies the Obama administration’s commitment to IT modernization.

Called the Modernization and Migration Management, or M3, Framework, the guidance includes both a playbook and investment review process agencies can use in conjunction to “increase the likelihood of success” for modernization or migration efforts to support mission functions.

The framework was announced in a blog post written by GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth and Office of Management and Budget Controller David Mader.

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“The M3 Playbook provides customers and providers with the requisite activities to successfully navigate the modernization and/or migration journey," the blog post states. "It was developed by incorporating leading practices and lessons learned from over 100 shared services experts across government agencies, industry and 28 federal organizations."

The six-phase framework puts a heavier emphasis on cross-agency collaboration.

An investment review process will include mandatory formal reviews conducted by an investment review board to evaluate migration risk and make recommendations to customers and stakeholders throughout the migration cycle, and to assess outcomes at each phase. It will make recommendations at those times to OMB for budgeting purposes.

“Using the Playbook as a map, [GSA’s Unified Shared Services Management office], OMB and other subject matter experts will work with customers and providers to assess and mitigate potential hurdles to success,” the blog states. “The process shifts the conversation from 'check the box documentation' to an outcome- and risk-based dialogue and provides greater transparency into costs and funding requirements for modernizations and migrations.”

The framework comes at a time when close to 80 percent of the nearly $90 billion federal IT budget is spent on operations and maintenance – keeping old systems running – which Congress recently called a “ticking time bomb.”

Dueling pieces of legislation has been proposed to combat the government’s legacy IT challenge. The first, championed by U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, would create a $3.1 billion IT modernization fund agencies could borrow from to modernize their systems. It was introduced by Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., back in April.

Alternative legislation called the Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology Act of 2016, or MOVE IT, was introduced in July by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. The Senate introduced an identical act before Congress called for a recess until September. MOVE IT would create working capital funds in individual agencies as opposed to providing one pot of money.

In any case, it appears GSA’s M3 framework is complementary to both pieces of legislation and would serve agencies that struggle with modernization even if neither bill becomes law.

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