Provision to modernize federal IT in compromise defense bill

Provision to modernize federal IT in compromise defense bill
© Getty Images

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compromise defense policy bill finalized this week includes a key provision that would help federal agencies replace outdated information technology with newer, more secure systems.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 HurdElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters for midterms Election Countdown: Florida candidates face new test from hurricane | GOP optimistic about expanding Senate majority | Top-tier Dems start heading to Iowa | Bloomberg rejoins Dems | Trump heads to Pennsylvania rally 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. 


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) MoranSenate Republicans demand Google hand over memo advising it to hide data vulnerability Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen MORE (R-Kan.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: Officials warn of Chinese influence efforts | Dow drops over 800 points | Tech stocks hit hard | Google appeals B EU fine | James Murdoch may be heading for Tesla | Most Americans worried about election security For everyone’s safety, border agents must use body-worn cameras Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh 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.