news The US Government has proposed the creation of a US$3.1 billion (A$4.08 billion) modernisation fund to improve cybersecurity and save money by replacing or modernising “antiquated” IT systems with more secure, efficient and up-to-date technology.
In an introduction to the proposal, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the proposed Information Technology Modernization Fund (ITMF) will be administered by the General Services Administration, and “will fund the transition to more secure and efficient modern IT systems and infrastructure, such as cloud platforms”.
It will also establish a “self-sustaining” mechanism for federal agencies to regularly update their IT systems based on up-to-date technologies and best practices.
Currently, Donovan said, civilian agencies spend nearly three-quarters of their IT budgets maintaining “legacy” IT investments.
“These systems may pose security risks, such as the inability to utilize current security best practices, including data encryption and multi-factor authentication. These systems may also pose operational risks, such as rising costs and inability to meet to mission requirements,” he said.
Without immediate action, the cost to operate and maintain such legacy systems will continue to grow, while security vulnerabilities and other risks will remain unresolved, according to the Director.
Describing the legislative proposal in more detail, he added that it addresses the challenges associated with legacy IT in a “number of unique ways” as follows:
Firstly, a board of experts would identify those projects with the highest priority, ensuring that the Federal Government’s “most pressing and highest-risk” systems are targeted for replacement.
The board would also be tasked with identifying opportunities across government for the replacement of multiple legacy systems with a smaller number of common platforms and the “re-engineering” of business practices.
A proposed requirement to repay funds would make the ITMF self-sustaining – continuing to support projects “well beyond” the initial injection of cash. As a result, a $3.1 billion in seed funding for the financial year 2017 would address at least $12 billion in modernisation projects over the first 10 years, Donovan said.
Furthermore, experts in IT acquisition and development at the General Services Administration would provide expertise to agencies in implementing their plans for modernisation. Every scheme that receives funding will receive centralised oversight and expertise in order to increase its likely success.
To ensure that agencies employ agile development techniques and that funds go to support successful projects, funding for all projects would also be tied to “real-world delivery of incrementally developed products”.
Finally, agencies would be competing for funding, providing “strong incentives” for agencies to develop “comprehensive, high-quality plans”.
“Ultimately, retiring or modernizing vulnerable and inefficient legacy IT systems will not
only make us more secure, it will also save money,” said Donovan. “As a means of addressing these pressing challenges, the Information Technology Modernization Fund is an important first step in changing the way the Federal Government manages its IT portfolio.”
“The innovative approaches in this legislative proposal will enhance agencies’ ability to protect sensitive data, reduce costs, and deliver world-class services to the public,” he concluded.