As the "Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017" (MGT Act) recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the government takes a major step towards moving at the speed of IT innovation. The bipartisan IT modernization bill, introduced to Congress for the second time by Texas Rep. Will Hurd on April 28, is designed to provide each government agency with funds to upgrade aging legacy technology.
The MGT Act aims to help Federal agencies promote the efficient, economical use of technology in its operations and reduce costs on IT modernization. "The Federal Government spends nearly 75 percent of its annual information technology funding on operating and maintaining existing legacy information technology systems," the bill reads.
Under the MGT Act, an estimated amount of $250 million in annual funds for two years will be appropriated for IT modernization efforts such as cloud migration and legacy product replacement.
Savings can be funneled into agency-specific working capital funds to be used for further IT modernization efforts within up to three years.
"Our government needs to be able to introduce cutting edge technology into their networks to improve operational efficiency and decrease operational cost. The MGT Act does just that,” says Rep. Hurd in an official release. He adds: "A move towards modern technologies can keep our information and digital infrastructure secure from cyberattacks, while saving billions of taxpayer dollars. This legislation is an innovative solution and another step forward in strengthening our digital infrastructure.”
With national cybersecurity taking the spotlight in recent weeks, the bill comes as timely. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a council of agency leaders to handle IT modernization efforts across all government agencies. The President also signed an executive order that mandated Federal agencies to implement best practices in cybersecurity.
These proved to be relevant steps in implementing necessary measures to address national IT-related concerns, especially with the recent global ransomware attack. Ransomware known as “WannaCry” swept computers of organizations across the globe, including USA's FedEx, the Russian Interior Ministry, and multiple hospital systems in Great Britain.
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The future of the MGT Act
Having passed House proceedings, the next stop for the MGT Act is the Senate. The bill reached Senate level in 2016, but stalled and was ultimately scrapped due to cost concerns.
Should the MGT Act reach official legislation status, it would launch a revolutionary government-wide movement to keep up with the constant shift of technology. Not only does it promote a cutting-edge, interconnected state, it also gives government agencies the opportunity to streamline and enhances their operations to better serve American citizens.
“Americans have demanded better digital services from their government,” comments Amarish Pathak, Chief Information Officer of the Army Air Force Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA). “If the bill is passed into law, it means the federal government will finally focus on transforming and modernizing its information technology and using it to deliver better digital services to our citizens. The MGT Act is essential to making it all happen.”
IT contractors who cater to the government would also reap benefits from an IT modernization law, as agencies would have more funds to invest in their business. Consequently, it would provide larger wiggle-room for these contractors to offer more leading-edge technology.
With the institution of a more connected government, however, comes a more pressing need to have a greater investment in cybersecurity measures, especially when agencies choose to adopt contemporary collaboration solutions such as cloud-based services.
MetroStar’s Director of Collaboration Ricardo Palhano notes, “Depending on where the final funding amounts fall—assuming the bill passes —it does introduce the potential for improvement. In any case, modernization will hopefully improve not just efficiency and cost, but also the integration of good security practices from the ground up.
Palhano adds, “At MetroStar, for instance, we invest heavily in ensuring that our workforce is not only aware of cybersecurity measures, but also putting them into practice. This allows us, as government IT contractors, to enable agencies to achieve their mission goals as we modernize their systems.”
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Racine Anne Castro
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