The Federal government is losing billions of dollars each year funding legacy systems. A report from IDC Government Insights shows that some agencies allocate upwards of 90 percent of their IT budgets to operations and maintenance. And, in a recent MeriTalk article, the Government Accountability Office’s Head Gene Dodaro noted legacy IT systems pose a serious obstacle to cybersecurity best practices. The answer is clear: Modernization.
With cybersecurity constantly making headlines – from stolen government laptops and faceless Russian hackers to corrupt White House messaging systems – protecting our nation’s networks and critical infrastructure is a large focus for the new administration. Last week, President Donald Trump released his first budget proposal, which included a $1.5 billion increase in cybersecurity funding for the Department of Homeland Security in 2018. Although the budget request displays the Trump administration’s IT priorities, there is little mentioned about IT modernization – the crucial first step in protecting Federal networks.
But what can the new administration do to jumpstart the Federal IT modernization process?
- Appoint a Federal CIO: When former Federal CIO Tony Scott left office, he left draft policies and plans ready for the next administration and Federal CIO to continue. Without a new Federal CIO, the modernization process has been brought to a halt. Expediting the appointment to this important role could help restart modernization efforts
- Release Anticipated Executive Order (EO) on Cybersecurity: Two drafts have been circulated – both the public and private sectors are watching for the final version and what it will tell us about the future of Federal IT modernization
- Revisit the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act: Last fall, the MGT Act passed in the House, but was stalled by the Senate. Reintroducing this legislation will help create government-wide funding for agencies to upgrade legacy systems, and empower individual agencies by providing them separate funds, which could be used to modernize IT systems
As cybersecurity issues continue to pop up in the news, and bipartisan support on these issues continues to grow, the opportunity for the Trump administration to continue Federal IT modernization progress becomes more significant. If the administration can seize this opportunity, it will save agencies’ time, money, and resources, and create a safer cyber environment.