- The federal government is looking to modernize and secure IT systems by tapping into shared services and consolidating the use of networks, according to an IT modernization plan released last week by the American Technology Council (ATC). The report calls on federal agencies to maximize cloud usage, update government-hosted applications and securely maintain legacy systems in production.
- The IT modernization plan is a response to a May executive order, which called for upgrading federal IT to better protect national cybersecurity. The ATC wants to rethink how the government sources IT, in particular consolidating network acquisitions and management to avoid duplicate investments.
- The ATC is looking at shared services that will increase how the federal government uses the cloud and collaboration tools. Though some of the efforts would require changes to the federal IT acquisition process, the report calls for commercial cloud use, improvement of existing shared security services and increased adoption of cloud-based email and collaboration suites.
Experts have long debated how to upgrade federal IT, calling for modernization, better acquisition processes and advanced cybersecurity measures. The Trump administration has focused on cybersecurity in particular, prioritizing it as a national security measure in a May executive order. Though government cybersecurity has improved slightly, a recent report from SecurityScorecard ranks it 16th out of 18 industries, ahead of only the telecommunications and education sectors in cybersecurity.
Rather than throw patches and additional resources at the cybersecurity problem, the Trump administration has called for overarching IT modernization which addresses the root of the problem. Of the government's $80 billion IT budget, 75% goes towards maintenance — leaving little room for security upgrades or industry best practices.
Many have tried to upgrade federal IT, but modernization efforts often fall to the wayside, stalled by politics. Last year, the Modernizing Government Technology Act stalled, but Reps. Will Hurd, R-TX, and Steny Hoyer, D-MD, are tackling the topic once again. The hope is to upgrade government technology while creating a more innovative IT backbone, something Hoyer says is neither a partisan nor philosophical issue. Rather, constituents just want IT services that are reliable, functional and secure.
The federal government has called on the private sector to help with its modernization efforts, but the recent disbandment of two White House business councils has highlighted the tenuous relationship the business community has with the Trump administration.
The private sector, however, has offered its technology expertise since the beginning of the administration, with plans from the Technology CEO Council to save the government $1 trillion in 10 years. With the continued partnership, the Trump administration is hoping for a federal IT "revolution" that will allow America to emerge as a global leader in government technology.