Hurd encouraged by IT funding in Trump budget

The architect of the Managing Government Technology Act is happy with the administration's request for a central IT modernization fund, but he thinks the real action will take place at the agency level.

Will Hurd

The architect of the MGT Act is encouraged by the inclusion of IT modernization funds in the administration's budget request.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is pushing for IT reform legislation from his perch as chairman of the IT Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He spoke with FCW's Chase Gunter on May 23. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FCW: What are your initial thoughts on the inclusion of funds for IT modernization in the Trump budget request?

Hurd: There's $228 million for the centralized fund. But I still think that the core part of the MGT Act is the working capital funds that can be established at the various agencies. As with most presidents’ budgets, that's [Trump’s] initial statement, and there's a lot of different priorities that need to be weighed in funding the government. So my focus right now is doing whatever I can to help my friends [Sen. Jerry] Moran and [Sen. Tom] Udall get MGT passed in the Senate so we can actually get it to the president's desk.

FCW: What role did you have in getting that $228 million secured in the budget proposal?

Hurd: Well, the role that I would ultimately have is being able to articulate to appropriators how that fund would ultimately be used, and I think it's important for [the Office of Management and Budget] to highlight some of the examples of how that $228 million could potentially be used in order to modernize systems. As we were finalizing the details of MGT, we'd have conversations with the White House about how they plan to implement and how they want to use a working capital fund.

FCW: Who’s leading this in the White House?

Hurd: This is the Office of American Innovation, you know, all the way to Jared Kushner. I've had many conversations with him and Chris Liddell as well, and then Matt Lira, on that team. That entire office is engaged on this and wants to see it get done. They see this as a vehicle -- it's another tool that they can get to their agencies in order to do modernization.

FCW: Is having the central fund being included in the White House budget a vote of confidence, something that could boost MGT in the Senate?

Hurd: I hope, right? I think that the Office of American Innovation has made it clear that this is something they want to see get done and having [support from] Moran and Udall is another vote of confidence. There's no question about the value this brings to the American government.…  Now, whether or not Appropriations is going to fund it -- that’s a whole other conversation.