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Senators Urge 'Swift Action' on IT Modernization Bill

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Fresh off its unanimous passage in the House, a bipartisan cadre of senators are pushing for immediate action on the Modernization Government Technology Act in the upper chamber.  

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who introduced a Senate version of the MGT Act in April, today authored a letter to the heads of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee requesting “swift action” on the bill. The committee, headed by Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and ranking member Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has not marked the bill up yet.

Moran and co-sponsors Tom Udall, D-N.M., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Mark Warner, D-Va., all signed the letter and attached accompanying statements.

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“Senators from both sides of the aisle recognize the urgency of this issue: As we have seen just this month with the ‘WannaCry’ attack, global cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and pose a complex and serious threat to our national security,” Udall said. “Now, it's time for the Senate to pass this bipartisan bill and see it signed into law, to ensure that our government is getting better service at a better value for American taxpayers.”

The letter recapped how the government spends more than 75 percent of its $80 billion IT budget on maintaining systems rather than “development, modernization and enhancement activities,” and the older systems pose “serious security risks.”

Warner added the MGT Act is a “commonsense step” the legislative branch can take to assist federal agencies in their modernization efforts.

The bill creates two ways for agencies to modernize their systems. The first involves the creation of a Technology Modernization Fund, which received $228 million in funding President Donald Trump’s budget proposal this week.

A review board would oversee competitive business plans agencies devise in efforts to borrow against—and eventually, pay back—the fund, ensuring it is self-sustaining.

The bill would also create working IT capital funds within CFO Act agencies. Agencies could recoup savings from existing or new modernization efforts rather than give money back to the Treasury Department. Agencies that save money would be allowed to keep the money for up to three years, provided they use the cash to pay for future modernization efforts.

“Reporting the MGT Act out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will help advance our shared goal of preserving national security and ensuring that the federal government uses taxpayer dollars wisely,” Moran said.

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