Hurd: ‘Devil is in the details’ on IT budget plans

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The IT modernization fund proposed in President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget is a good idea, but is only the start of the work needed to reduce government spending on legacy systems, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, told FedScoop Thursday.

Hurd, who serves as the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s IT subcommittee, said he had looked over parts of the president’s budget plan since it was released Tuesday, warning that agencies will need to show how they plan on complying to the $3.1 billion plan.

[Read More: More cash for new IT in 2017 federal budget plan]

“The devil is always going to be in the details,” Hurd said. “Agencies need to incorporate modernization into their individual budgets. This is not going to be something they only have to deal with right now. This is constantly going to be an issue, and they need to be prepared to do that.”

The fund would operate out of the General Services Administration, with agencies needing to hit certain modernization benchmarks to continue receiving funds. 

Federal CIO Tony Scott said this week the fund will also encourage agencies to use governmentwide shared services instead of building their own solutions from scratch, hopefully meshing with new more centralized authorities granted by the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act last year.

Hurd believes modernization fund could work in concert with FITARA, giving agency CIOs more power over what is purchased and attached to agency networks.

“The key point of FITARA is empowering CIOs to have the authority to do what they need to do on their networks,” Hurd told FedScoop. “Being able to tap into an additional fund to do their work, that’s not counter to what FITARA is. We should be thinking within that framework, ultimately, how do we empower CIOs and agency heads to take control of protecting their own networks.”

[Read more: Obama increases IT spend to $89B in 2017 budget proposal]

Whether this plan ever becomes a reality, only time will tell. Congressional Republicans refused to extend an invitation to Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to discuss the budget proposal. 

In turn, the White House said Tuesday that if another government breach occurs within the next year, the blame will be placed on the GOP.

“I guarantee you that at some point over the next year, we’re all going to file into the Briefing Room, and I will walk in and find many of you on the edge of your seats eager to ask the White House about the latest cyber intrusion,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“I will certainly make detailed note of the significant investments we are proposing to enhance our cybersecurity, and you can be certain that I will point out that when we put forward this proposal, Republicans on the Budget Committee refused to even discuss it.”

Hurd dismissed the White House’s remarks when asked about them on Thursday. 

“It’s Congress that funds the government, not the White House,” he told FedScoop. “It’s a bit silly that the president is concerned about not coming down to the hill to brief someone.”

Contact the reporter on this story via email at greg.otto@fedscoop.com, or follow him on Twitter at @gregotto. His OTR and PGP info can be found hereSubscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Congress, Government IT News, Will Hurd
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