Panel approves bill to replace outdated federal systems

Panel approves bill to replace outdated federal systems

Until Tuesday when the bills merged, Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had rival plans to modernize the government’s outdated communications systems. Two days later, the new Modernizing Government Technology Act has already left committee. 

“We did something today that was a big deal,” Hurd said at a conference for the Internet Security Alliance after the Thursday markup.

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The bill combines Hoyer’s idea, a centralized loan program repaid through the cost savings agencies would achieve by using newer, more efficient technology, with a direct funding approach advocated by Hurd. 

Agencies will reinvest the savings realized by using the direct funds to purchase more new technology. 

Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott has advocated both ideas, saying modernizing infrastructure is not only cheaper in the long run, but also more secure from hackers. 

“Not once did [my constituents] see a campaign ad about IT procurement. IT procurement is not a sexy topic. No one has ever thrown a rally for IT procurement,” Hurd said.

“But when the Federal government is spending $80 billion on IT procurement and 80 percent of that is on old and outdated systems, people are automatically outraged."

Hurd said the bill would be on the floor next week and pass under suspension of the rules.

“Despite being 60 days from an election, we had a significant piece of bipartisan legislation that will change how the government does business and create incentives for our CIOs within the federal government to save money and to modernize,” he said. 

“It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal.”