By Jason Kimrey, Area Director of U.S. Federal for Intel
Yesterday, the House of Representatives took a major step toward helping the federal government upgrade its IT systems when it unanimously passed the Modernizing Government Technology Act on September 22. The bill authorizes the Information Technology Modernization Fund, a program envisioned by the President’s cybersecurity plan announced earlier this year that would update government IT systems and transform cybersecurity management. The fund would enable the retirement, replacement and modernization of legacy IT that is difficult to secure and expensive to maintain. Federal agencies and organizations would end up saving money and increasing the performance of their IT systems because older technology is inefficient and costly to maintain. For example, servers older than four years old deliver just four percent of the performance as new ones, yet they use 65 percent of the energy.
This victory in the House was due in large part to the leadership of Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Information Technology Subcommittee, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL). As the bill moves through the Senate, legislators should ensure that it further specifies investment in truly cutting-edge solutions that benefit from increased performance, automation, user-friendly interfaces and strong cybersecurity capabilities. If the federal government has the opportunity to modernize IT infrastructure and applications, they should do so all the way. While it’s a great leap forward, the bill’s language doesn’t create enough incentives for federal agencies to acquire the most cutting-edge solutions. In addition to increased incentives, it is critical for the $3.1B to be appropriated for the Information Technology Modernization Fund.
For now, this is a great achievement that could help the federal government accomplish the much-needed modernization of its legacy IT systems. Congratulations to the bill’s champions and the House for passing this important measure.