Bill to help agencies modernize IT quickly passes committee

Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd penned the Modernizing Government Technology Act with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Flickr)

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a bill Thursday designed to help government modernize its aging technology.

The bill, which combines elements of Maryland Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s IT Modernization Act and Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd’s MOVE IT Act, will next move to the House floor for a vote.

The Modernizing Government Technology Act would create individual IT working capital funds for each of the 24 CFO Act agencies and a centralized IT modernization fund housed in the Treasury Department that executive branch agencies could apply to draw from.

[Read more: New legislation blends MOVE IT Act, IT Modernization Fund]

“Last year, the federal government spent $80 billion on IT systems, 80 percent of which was spent maintaining outdated, legacy systems,” Hurd noted in a statement. “We don’t have to be stuck in the Stone Age.”

Hurd is a co-sponsor on the new hybrid bill with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who notably helped pen the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act passed in 2014.

“It will build on the success of FITARA by investing savings in retiring dated, legacy systems and accelerating our transition to the cloud,” Connolly said in a statement.

Hurd collaborated with Hoyer and other co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle to develop the new bill, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who expressed his support for the bill during the markup.

“This bipartisan legislation would provide a mechanism for agencies to speed up the process in moving from legacy IT systems to cutting edge cyber technologies,” Cummings said during the markup. “Congress cannot realistically mandate that agencies stop legacy systems computer systems without offering alternative options.”

During the markup, Cummings in particular cited concerns that federal computer systems are so old that they cannot ward off cyber attacks.

“Everyday our nation’s cyber networks come under increasingly sophisticated attacks,” the committee’s Democratic ranking member said. “Those assaults often succeed because federal computer systems are so outdated that they cannot implement network defenses as basic as encryption.”

[Read more: Agencies face cyber concerns as apps rely on aging systems — report]

In his statement, Hurd also noted that “a move to growing technologies like the cloud can help keep our information secure, while saving billions of dollars.”

“It’s time to stop wasting tax dollars and move government into the 21st Century,” he said.

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Congress, Cybersecurity, Government IT News, LCOG, legacy IT, Modernization
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