Three bills and many discussions later, hybrid legislation to help agencies modernize legacy IT systems passed the House Thursday.
The Modernizing Government Technology Act, which sailed through the House on a unanimous voice vote, combines elements of two bills introduced this year: Maryland Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s IT Modernization Act and Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd’s MOVE IT Act.
Hurd is an author of the combined bill, which 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.
On the House floor Thursday, Hurd urged Congress to pass his bill, which he said would help agencies upgrade legacy systems that pose cybersecurity risks. In particular he cited the historic Office of Personnel Management data breach as an example of vulnerable legacy IT leading to compromised systems.
“The recently issued OPM report demonstrates a security risk of such legacy IT and recommends Congress consider new tools to incentivize the transition from legacy to modernized IT solutions across the federal government,” Hurd said. “I’m happy to say, this bipartisan bill follows up on that recommendation.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who co-authored the bill with Hurd, said on the House floor that “the United States government must come in to the 21st century. We owe it to the people we serve to protect the systems that operate within the 24 federal agencies we’re particularly concerned about.”
Connolly, who also helped pen the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act passed in 2014, added: “We need to streamline management of IT assets. We need to make strategic and wise investments, and we need to have a schedule of replacement for most of those legacy systems, and we need to encrypt and protect against cyber attacks for the sake of the American people.”
Other bill co-sponsors include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
While the bill combines elements of the two initial modernization bills, it does not address appropriations for the centralized IT modernization fund. Hoyer’s original bill called for a revolving $3.1 billion modernization fund.
Hurd noted on the House floor that while the bill doesn’t appropriate any new funding, it does build on the successes of FITARA.
Before the bill passed, the congressman also commended the ability to move a bipartisan bill in a polarized environment.
“Folks recognize that sometimes up here in Washington, D.C., it can be a circus,” Hurd said. “But there’s times where folks working together can actually solve major problems. And this is one example of being in a partisan part of our election cycle, where people working together can solve a big problem, and do it to make sure we’re using American taxpayer dollars wisely.”
The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.