Democratic and Republican policy advisers in the House are meeting this week to craft a bipartisan compromise that would combine the key elements of two major IT modernization bills introduced earlier this year into a legislative package that sources say has the backing of Republican appropriators and stands a good chance of being signed into law before President Barack Obama leaves office.
The negotiations are focused on integrating select components of Rep. Steny Hoyer’s, D-Md., IT Modernization Act into the Modernizing Outdated and Vulnerable Equipment and Information Technology (MOVE IT) Act, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, MeriTalk has learned.
Sources on Capitol Hill, who spoke to MeriTalk on condition of anonymity, said the bargain would provide the working capital fund that Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott has requested, and would set up Hurd’s MOVE IT Act for signing before the end of the year.
“This is a huge deal, because the challenge has been with the House Republican appropriators,” a source said. “We got three House Republican appropriators on board as co-sponsors.”
Merging Scott’s request for a revolving capital fund into the MOVE IT Act would entail setting up a superfund at either the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or the General Services Administration (GSA) to create a cross-agency source of money through a “shark tank process subject to the review and approval of Tony Scott,” the source said.
The path forward for the MOVE IT Act would be to introduce it through committee markup during the week of Sept. 19 and have it clear committee markup. Then it would go to the House floor under suspension of the rules, which basically requires unanimous agreement. Then the Senate would clone it, and “hotline it” through the Senate under unanimous consent. At that point it would go to Obama for signature.
“Pretty good chance this will happen this year. But the legislation has to be non-controversial,” a Capitol Hill source said. “House Republican leadership is behind the package, because they want to throw a bone to Will Hurd, who’s in a tough re-election campaign. Democrats are behind it because this is the only way that their idea—the IT Modernization Fund—is going to happen. Otherwise ITMF is a dead letter.”
Once the MOVE IT Act has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, it becomes “the only game in town.”
Hurd introduced the MOVE IT Act in July. Like its predecessor, the Cloud IT Act, the bill would provide agencies budgetary flexibility to reinvest savings realized through FITARA reforms into IT modernization projects.
It also includes significant reforms of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management program, known as FedRAMP. For example, the bill would require OMB and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish performance metrics for the FedRAMP process of authorizing cloud service providers to sell cloud services to Federal agencies. It would also require OMB to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness and efficiency of the FedRAMP program management office.
The Federal government spends $86 billion a year on outdated Information Technology procurement.