Agencies would be able to borrow from the fund to update systems, but they would need to pay it back.
The Trump administration today proposed $228 million in funding for a Technology Modernization Fund housed within the General Services Administration.
The budget states the central fund will help transition agencies from older IT infrastructure to “more efficient and secure technologies.” It outlines four parameters for the fund: An independent board would review agency proposals, agencies would repay the fund, IT acquisition and development experts would help agencies implement their plans, and agencies would use agile development techniques.
The proposal suggests the administration fully backs IT modernization legislation called the Modernizing Government Technology Act that passed the House last week and now awaits Senate review.
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If enacted, the legislation would allow federal agencies to borrow against the fund to modernize outdated IT systems. GSA released language describing the fund to reporters shortly after the budget was released Tuesday.
“The TMF will provide a central mechanism for retiring and replacing antiquated legacy IT systems that are not cost-effective or pose security risks,” according to the statement. “The fund will align upfront funding, high-level management and oversight, and technical expertise to enhance the ability of the government to protect sensitive data, reduce costs and deliver services to the public.”
As authored by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, the legislation would create an independent board that oversees the fund and mechanisms for agencies to pay back what they borrow to ensure the fund sustains itself. The Technology Transformation Service, an office within GSA, will support projects the board approves.
With the executive branch seemingly onboard with the MGT Act, the focus now shifts to the Senate. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., with cosponsors Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced their version of MGT in April, and it currently sits with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
A Hill official tells Nextgov Moran “is pushing for the bill’s timely consideration” given its potential to save billions of taxpayer dollars and improve national security through enhancing the cybersecurity of federal networks. The official said the Senate is paying attention to IT, especially in the wake of massive cyber incidents like WannaCry.
“The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee have been kept up to speed on the developments of the legislation since its last iteration,” the official said.
Rich Beutel, Cyrrus Analytics founder and formerly a senior staffer for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Nextgov the Trump administration’s decision to create a modernization fund, coupled with MGT Act’s lower Congressional Budget Office score, ups the bill’s odds significantly.
“I think by the fourth of July, we might have a bill signed into law,” Beutel told Nextgov. “There is huge momentum and it’s bipartisan.”