Combined Legislation to Tackle Legacy IT on the Horizon

Published: September 08, 2016

Information TechnologyOMBPolicy and Legislation

According to information obtained recently by Meritalk, work is taking place on Capitol Hill to draft bipartisan legislation that combines major elements of the IT Modernization Act and the Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology (MOVE IT) bills.

The IT Modernization Act was introduced by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in April to establish a government-wide $3.1 billion revolving fund to modernize outdated IT systems.  The IT Modernization Fund (ITMF) would be managed by a board at GSA where agencies would apply for and pay back funding.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) introduced the MOVE IT Act in July with the intention of reducing wasteful spending and enhancing information security by accelerating the federal government’s transition to cloud computing. The act builds on FITARA to modernize federal IT infrastructure.  It also enhances the FEDRAMP certification process by improving collaboration with industry so that the necessary cloud solutions are available to agencies when they are ready to transition.  

According to a Capitol Hill insider who spoke with Meritalk on the basis of anonymity, the combined legislation has the backing of Republican appropriators and may likely pass and be signed into law before the end of the President’s term.

Key components of the IT Modernization Act include:

  • The fund would use an independent board of experts to identify the government's highest-priority projects and to replace multiple legacy systems with a smaller number of common platforms.
  • The fund's $3.1 billion would serve as seed funding that agencies would pay back, thus addressing at least $12 billion in modernization projects in the first 10 years.
  • Every investment that receives funding would receive guidance from GSA experts in IT acquisition and development.

Key components of the MOVE IT Act include:

  • Reforms and streamlines the existing FedRAMP process, which standardizes and reduces the cost of assessing the security of cloud computing services used by federal agencies
  • Allows federal agencies to use a more flexible “IT working capital fund” to replace outdated IT systems, with savings reinvested or returned to the U.S. Treasury
  • Implements new oversight mechanisms – including semi-annual reports – to ensure robust congressional oversight of federal IT modernization efforts

Rep. Hurd positioned the MOVE IT Act as an alternative to the IT Modernization Act, however Federal CIO Tony Scott has showed public support for both bills and believes they compliment each other.

“There is no good and bad here. I think these are all attempts to solve a real hard problem that we have. The question is really what’s the best combination of things that we can put together to really go attack this in a meaningful way? That’s where everybody is headed,” Scott said in an interview after an FCW Cyber Summit in DC in August. 

No matter the outcome from a legislative standpoint, OMB is drafting guidance for agencies on how to deal with legacy IT. Scott did not give a date for release, but the guidance will provide agency CIOs with direction on how to implement a continuous technology refresh cycle.

No information is available on a release date for the new combined IT legislation.