MGT’s Senate sponsors push committee to act

The Senate backers of the $500 million Modernizing Government Technology Act are urging a key committee to take action on the bill.

The MGT Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote and which figured into the IT section of the Trump administration’s budget, is currently awaiting action in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), both on the Appropriations committee, sent a letter May 24 to the chairman and ranking member of HSGAC, urging them to markup the MGT Act and forward it for consideration by the full Senate.

In a telephone interview, Moran told FCW he had met with HSGAC chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to alert him to the coming letter, discuss the legislation and seek a markup in committee.

“I certainly have no commitment to do that, but there was no indication that there was a problem in our request,” Moran said. “We’ll continue to work with the Homeland Security committee and Chairman Johnson and the ranking member and see if we can advance this cause in a timely fashion,” Moran said.

“It’s the kind of legislation you’d expect to have a bright future,” Moran added. “It’s difficult to pass anything in the U.S. Congress, but here we have something that is really just good government. This has a great opportunity to save taxpayer dollars and improve national security,” he said.

The bill sets up a central revolving fund capped at $250 million annually to be run out of the General Services Administration. Agencies could apply to a modernization board to access funds to help move agency systems from legacy tech to managed services. Additionally, the legislation authorizes revolving tech refresh funds at 24 large agencies where savings from IT upgrades could be banked and reused for up to three years on subsequent modernization projects.

Moran and Udall first began working on IT modernization in the previous session of Congress, when the two were the chairman and ranking member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the Appropriations panel. They’ve kept up their partnership on this issue even as they’ve moved on to leadership posts in other subcommittees.

“I have staff that are very strong on these issues, and it’s been staff who piqued the interest on my part. What I discovered was that this concept, which has now become legislation, really can work to save money and was really well received by people who were just interested in good government,” Moran said.

Moran and Udall were joined in their letter by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mt.), who sits on Appropriations and HSGAC, and by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a former member of HSGAC who is active on IT and government modernization issues.

An emailed request for comment to a HSGAC spokesperson about the future of the MGT Act was not immediately returned. In previous statements, the committee has indicated that staff is reviewing the bill.