recommended reading

House Passes Modernizing Government Technology Act

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas // J. Scott Applewhite/AP

One week after Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, introduced new IT legislation to the House of Representatives, designed to thrust government into 21st-century technologies, the Modernizing Government Technology Act passed on a voice vote. 

“Many parts of the federal government’s IT infrastructure are stuck in the Stone Age,” said Hurd, who chairs the House IT Subcommittee and is known as one of Congress’ most tech-savvy members. “The MGT Act will save taxpayer dollars, increase government accountability, and help government be more efficient in serving the American people.”

The MGT Act is essentially a combination of two prior pieces of legislation, taking portions of its language from the MOVE IT Act Hurd introduced earlier this summer and the White House-backed IT Modernization Fund introduced by Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in the spring. 

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

The bill calls for the creation of working IT capital funds in CFO Act agencies, allowing agencies to bank savings from modernization efforts afoot. As a whole, government spends approximately 80 percent of its $90 billion IT budget on legacy systems. Agencies that are able to show savings from modernization efforts would be rewarded under this bill, allowing them to use savings to fund other modernization efforts, such as moving to the cloud. 

The bill also would create a federal-wide modernization fund that agencies—led by chief information officers—could build business cases for to seek out money for modernization efforts. In this way, the MGT Act incorporates the main thrust of Hoyer’s ITMF legislation, though it differs in that no upfront money will fill the pot of money. Were it to pass, appropriators would have that discretion. 

The federal government’s woefully old IT systems are apparently something both political parties believe require fixing. The bipartisan effort was on display Thursday, with MGT Act co-sponsor Gerry Connolly, D-Va., praising Hurd and others for grasping the importance of modernizing federal IT systems. 

“Sometimes deservedly, Congress gets dinged on for not being able to get anything done, but the fact of the matter is below the surface things can and do get done with leadership and collaboration and partnership,” Connolly said on the House floor Thursday.

Hurd invoked the Office of Personnel Management hack that exposed millions of security clearance holders’ personal information in 2015 as the impetus for the bill, though Congress has documented numerous other egregious examples of outdated technology at work in government. Some large systems predate the 1970s.

“We got too many old things on our network,” Hurd said Thursday. “A reliance on legacy IT can result in security vulnerabilities, where old software or operating systems are no longer supported by vendors and aging IT infrastructure becomes difficult and expensive to secure.” 

There has been less action in the Senate, which hasn’t seen the needle move since July since the previous MOVE IT Act was introduced. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.