Is IT modernization on the horizon?

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

With lawmakers voting later this week on the $1 trillion bipartisan budget deal, the battle over funding for the remainder of FY17 may be settled fairly peacefully.

If this omnibus passes, it will largely spare civilian agencies from deep cuts in funding. It also includes some interesting features technology companies will want to take note of that will impact IT budgets and priorities.

The omnibus includes no funding for the construction of a border wall but does include $1.5 billion for border security measures, which would include infrastructure and surveillance technologies. This will create opportunities around the internet of things (IoT)—collecting, integrating, securing, storing and analyzing relevant surveillance data. Getting involved early with IoT opportunities will be important as adoption picks up down the line and will give companies with solutions a chance to cite and build upon previous successes.

Cybersecurity also continues to be a priority when it comes to IT. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are just two of the agencies slated to receive bumps in funding for cyber efforts.

For DHS, the additional funding will go toward modernizing emergency communications and network security. The FBI will be using the additional money to target cyber crime.

The omnibus will create opportunities for the government to purchase new technologies in the near term. There are also some legislative and administrative efforts at play that may lead to larger modernization efforts in FY18 and beyond that technology companies need to be aware of.

President Trump just this week signed an executive order forming the American Technology Council, which will be made up of senior officials taking a hard look at how agencies could modernize and update their IT and digital systems. While it’s still in its early stages, this council shows commitment toward creating efficiencies with IT systems.

This also ties in with the Modernizing Government IT Act (MGT), which is a bill that aims to give agencies funds (via working capital) to help with the upfront costs associated with modernizing legacy IT systems. This bill has been gaining momentum among lawmakers, especially given the number of attacks on legacy government networks that we’ve seen in the past several years.

The MGT Act would allow agency CIOs to move off legacy systems and free up money to go toward other priorities like shoring up cybersecurity or other mission requirements. The legislation could see action in the House in the next couple of weeks. If it passes, it will create myriad of opportunities for technology companies.

Right now, about three-quarters of every IT dollar is spent on legacy systems. Freeing up even a small portion of that total amount would let agency CIOs and other decision makers invest in capabilities that will save them money in operations down the line, but moreover, would allow them to begin truly modernizing IT operations and processes.

For example, a large concern across agencies is a shortage of data scientists. If agencies had money to invest in new capabilities, they could begin to address this and other problems they’ve faced because of other manpower or funding shortages. You’ll want to track the MGT Act closely and have conversations now with your customers about their modernization priorities so you’ll be well positioned to help them down the line.

Be sure to check our Resource Library during the week of May 15 for an on-demand recording of our recent event, IoT in Government—From Impact to Opportunity.

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