It is encouraging to see Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and 18 cosponsors of H.R. 2227 - The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act of 2017 – move forward on getting this important legislation enacted. The US House of Representatives passed Hurd’s bill on May 17, 2017, and the hope is that the US Senate (by attaching to the National Defense Authorization Act) will vote to approve it following their August recess, allowing the President to sign the bill into law.
The purpose of the MGT Act is to:
- Assist the Federal Government in modernizing Federal information technology to mitigate current operational and security risks.
- Incentivize cost savings in Federal information technology through modernization.
- Accelerate the acquisition and deployment of modernized information technology solutions, such as cloud computing, by addressing impediments in the areas of funding, development, and acquisition practices.
The MGT Act is important, as the Federal Government spends nearly 75% of its annual information technology funding ($81.6 B FY17) on operating and maintaining existing legacy information technology systems. While some legacy systems, including mainframe applications, mission critical networks, and communication portals, still function as originally designed and built, many pose operational risks. These include rising maintenance costs and an inability to meet user requirements and performance expectations. Depending on how they have been maintained, these systems may also pose security vulnerabilities against cyber threats at home and abroad. Simply put, when our Government is forced to spend 75% of its IT budget on maintaining legacy systems, there is little money left to modernize.
MGT uses a pool of funds (currently projected to be $250 M for FY18) to improve, retire, or replace existing Federal information technology systems, enhance cybersecurity, and improve efficiency and effectiveness. The Fund creates incentives for Agencies to save money as it allows Agencies to “bank” savings and then use them for up to three years for other IT modernization initiatives. Hurd’s goal is to eliminate the “use it or lose it” approach Agencies have faced when it comes to IT budgets and savings.
SIE supports MGT and believes it’s a necessary first step for agencies to update their infrastructure. As a leading provider of software license management (SLM) expert services for Federal customers, we believe the massive presence of legacy systems complicates the ability to operate efficiently in terms of both system performance and cost. For instance, the inability to connect financial systems to asset inventory data, on a consistent basis, prevents IT managers from knowing key attributes about their licenses, including what’s available, being used, and at what cost. As such, IT managers may play it safe and simply procure a new asset for the user, leading to decreased Agency efficiency and higher costs for the US taxpayer.
Hurd’s second version of the bill is almost identical to his first, which while widely supported by the previous Administration and the House, lost steam in the Senate partly because of a high budget score by the Congressional Budget Office. Now, the Senate backers of MGT are looking to a familiar vehicle to get their legislation enacted – the must-pass defense authorization bill. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) offered the MGT Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
While MGT is not yet final, Federal CIOs should begin planning now. Agencies should start by collecting an inventory of assets, prioritize their investments, and focus resources on high ROI projects – those that eliminate waste or retire legacy and inefficient systems. By taking these steps, Agencies can begin to transform their infrastructure, provide modern technology services to their users, and truly benefit from the cost savings to their bottom-line.
To find out more about MGT and how SIE can help, contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.