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Provision to modernize federal IT in compromise defense bill

Provision to modernize federal IT in compromise defense bill
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The compromise defense policy bill finalized this week includes a key provision that would help federal agencies replace outdated information technology with newer, more secure systems. 

The measure, spearheaded by Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-Texas) in the House, was included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) hammered out by House and Senate negotiators, a spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed. 

The provision would create a $500 million modernization fund for agencies to use to modernize their IT systems, in addition to working capital funds to help agencies transition to newer technology. 

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Hurd’s legislation, called the Modernizing Government Technology Act, passed the House back in May and was included in the Senate-passed version of the annual defense policy legislation. Companion legislation was introduced by Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans MORE (R-Kan.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline MORE (D-N.M.) in the Senate. 

The Armed Services Committee spokesman said the provision remains unchanged from the Senate-backed bill. 

"I am pleased the Senate and House conferees were able to reach a consensus on this crucial legislation to bring our federal IT systems into the 21st century," Moran said in a statement Thursday. "The bipartisan MGT Act will modernize our outdated federal IT systems and strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities, all while reducing our long-term spending."

The bill has strong backing from the Trump administration, which has made modernizing government systems a priority at the Office of American Innovation, led by President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Hurd has been working for more than a year to get the bill over the finish line. A previous version passed the House last Congress but stalled in the Senate after the Congressional Budget Office said that it would cost $9 billion to implement.

With some changes, the provision’s cost dropped to $500 million over a five-year period.

The House and Senate Armed Services committees released their summaries of the final NDAA conference report on Wednesday and are expected to release full text of the compromise policy bill on Thursday. 

The full House and Senate will need to approve the legislation before sending it to Trump’s desk.

However, Congress will still need to reach an agreement on the budget to increase defense spending caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

This post was updated at 3:29 p.m.