White House issues guidance to agencies on IT modernization

White House issues guidance to agencies on IT modernization
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The White House on Tuesday issued formal guidance to federal agencies on implementing part of its push to modernize information technology across the federal government.

The guidance released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) walks agency and department heads through the implementation of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which authorizes two different funding streams to help agencies replace legacy IT systems with newer, more efficient and more secure technology.


“The MGT Act will allow agencies to invest in modern technology solutions to improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars,” OMB Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyLook out ‘losers’ — Trump focused on ‘winning’ Warren calls for probe into Trump name change for consumer bureau In 2016, Mick Mulvaney said Trump's past activities should disqualify him 'in an ordinary universe' MORE wrote in a memo to leaders of executive branch agencies and departments on Tuesday.

The bipartisan measure was included as part of the 2018 annual defense policy bill that President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE signed into law late last year. It establishes a $500 million general technology modernization fund that agencies can borrow from in order to transition to new technology, in addition to allowing agencies to set up their own working capital funds for IT projects.

According to the guidance issued Tuesday, agencies will need to submit proposals to an interagency board in order to receive money from the general fund. The Technology Modernization Board will be responsible for approving certain projects and making funding recommendations to the General Services Administration, which administers the funds.

The interagency board will be officially established on March 12, according to the guidance, and will have seven members, including Trump’s federal chief information officer Suzette Kent, who will serve as its chair. Trump appointed Kent, a financial services executive, to the top IT role in January, more than a year into his administration.

The board will also include a senior GSA official, a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity wing, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, and four federal government employees appointed by Mulvaney. 

“The Board will evaluate and recommend for funding the proposals that show the strongest case for delivering on agency mission objectives and a strong likelihood of success,” the guidance states.

Agencies can begin submitting initial proposals on Tuesday. The law authorizes as much as $250 million in appropriations for the fund in each of the fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The new guidance also instructs agencies to notify OMB by March 27 if they intend to set up a working capital fund. Each agency that does so will be required to report to OMB quarterly on all IT investments supported by the fund. 

The Trump administration has made modernizing the federal government’s digital infrastructure a priority, with former Microsoft executive Chris Liddell at the Office of American Innovation driving the push.