With Friendly CBO Score, IT Modernization Bill Hits House Floor Wednesday

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas Andrew Harnik/AP

The Modernizing Government Technology Act dodged the high price tag it received the first time around.

After sailing through committee vote two weeks ago, Rep. Will Hurd’s Modernizing Government Technology Act will see a floor vote Wednesday, according to multiple sources—and this time around, it has a much friendlier Congressional Budget Office score than its failed predecessor did.

If enacted, CBO said the new tech modernization legislation would cost $500 million between 2018 and 2022, assuming appropriators fully fund the bill’s central modernization fund. Agencies could borrow from that fund to modernize their IT systems.

According to CBO, the bill would not affect direct spending revenues, nor add to the budget deficit.

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This is important news for Hurd’s IT modernization bill.

One of the key reasons the previous iteration of the bill died in the U.S. Senate last year was its controversial and high CBO score of $9 billion. CBO then assumed appropriators would fully fund a $3.1 billion modernization fund over a 3-year period.

To avoid the same pitfall this time, Hurd’s team worked with officials from the Government Accountability Office, the White House and CBO, reducing the size of the central fund the legislation would create while enhancing the working IT capital funds CFO Act agencies can create themselves.

Working capital funds would be sourced through reprogramming or transfers from existing funds previously used for operation and maintenance of legacy systems. In other words, agencies could stash savings from modernization investment, such as cloud computing, in capital funds rather than fork it back over to the Treasury Department.

“To me, the meat of this bill is the working capital funds,” Hurd told Nextgov upon introducing the legislation.

Meanwhile, companion legislation in the Senate is moving slowly. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., with cosponsors Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced a version of the IT modernization on April 28. Its first hurdle will be the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, though a vote has not yet been scheduled.