As a conservative, I am always looking for ways to reform government spending and use tax dollars more efficiently. With a background in computer science and through my time as Chair of the House IT Subcommittee, I’ve been able to identify federal information technology (IT) as an area in desperate need of reform.
While IT isn’t the most exciting topic for everyone, this issue has more of an impact on your lives than you might realize. Billions of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted maintaining outdated and obsolete government IT systems that are not just costly, but also vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Last year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked, compromising the personal information of over twenty million current and former government employees, myself included. Furthermore, the federal government’s budget for IT systems is a whopping $80 billion, and almost 80 percent of this is spent maintaining these outdated systems. Aside from protecting our information and infrastructure, imagine what we could save by investing in 21st Century digital solutions to modernize the federal government.
The American people deserve better from their government. That’s why in Congress I have prioritized increased accountability, and have been working with my colleagues to improve our information security and keep our spending to a minimum.
Earlier this month, I introduced the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act with support from my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, to reform federal IT and create a more modern, responsive, and cost-effective government. Forcing the federal government to operate more like a private business and less like the outdated bureaucracy it is starts with leadership, but cannot be achieved without new technology.
This bipartisan federal IT reform package helps catch our government up to speed with the 21st Century by incentivizing agencies to implement modern technology. Federal agencies will save money over time by doing things like reforming IT acquisition, streamlining IT systems, replacing legacy products, and transitioning to cloud computing.
Savings from these processes can be placed in what is called a working capital fund that can be accessed for up to three years for further IT updates. This approach gets rid of the traditional use-it or lose-it approach that has led to departments and agencies going on a spending glut at the end of the year simply to justify their budgets, holding back government technology for decades and wasting hard earned taxpayer dollars.
The MGT Act is scheduled for a vote on the House floor this week. And with these critical reforms, the federal government will be able to better address growing cybersecurity threats while providing more efficient services to the American people.
The threat of a cyberattack is very real. For the United States to continue being a world leader, we need to better secure our government data and digital infrastructure. MGT is an innovative solution and another step forward in moving our government into the 21st Century. I will continue to work with my colleagues until this reform package is signed into law by the President.
A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.