The Senate is planning on integrating a $500 million federal information technology (IT) modernization bill into the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill it is currently considering, according to Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas).
Hurd, speaking at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit on Wednesday, announced that the bill aimed at modernizing infrastructure across the federal government would be considered as part of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act by the end of this week in a move aimed at establishing the beginning of a national cyber security strategy. Hurd, who chairs the IT subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sponsored the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act that first passed the House in May.
“In the federal government, if you don’t use it you lose it. That is an insane way to purchase things to defend our digital infrastructure,” said Hurd. “And that’s why we introduced the Modernizing Government Technology Act which says that federal CIOs save money by modernizing federal infrastructure by making the transition to the cloud.”
Hurd expressed concern over the lack of a national cyber security strategy, specifically in the areas of identifying digital acts of war and how the government would respond the such events.
A factor of such a strategy remains making sure federal chief information officers (CIO) have the resources needed to modernize their systems and implement more effective information sharing policies with the private sector.
“Federal CIOs need to have the flexibility to purchase the IT goods and services they need in order to defend our digital infrastructure and in order to be more efficient,” said Hurd.
The MGT Act as currently stands would allow federal CIOs to replace outdated IT systems and provide funds to transition to cloud computing systems in order to improve the cyber resiliency of their networks.
Hurd did caution that replacing the infrastructure across an entity as large as the federal government as part of a modernization effort while also realizing substantial savings was nearly impossible. However, he pointed to MGT as a significant measure to ensuring funds are in place to start the process as part of a much needed national cyber security strategy.
“To be able to defend our digital systems, I think we have the talent. We have the CIOs to do that, we just have to make sure they have the tools in order to do that. We got to have a broader strategy and we have to fix IT procurement,” said Hurd.