OMB PLANS TO MODERNIZE IT, BUT HAVE WE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE?
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will lead a new effort to modernize civilian agency technology as one part of the Biden Administration’s recently released National Cybersecurity Strategy. The move is just the latest effort in attempting to eliminate obsolete federal technology systems. While contractors may support the intent of the OMB initiative, they must also note that previous attempts at achieving this goal have met with mixed results. The IT Modernization Fund, a popular way for agencies to pay for new systems, has achieved well-publicized successes, but has never been fully funded. It faces consistent suspicion from Congress, likely due to the fact that, beyond the IT modernization mandate, Congress does not control how the money in the fund is spent. Congress also favors some agencies over others. This most notably means that any modernization money for the IRS may be very hard to come by. OMB and specific agency leadership often clash, too, over prioritizing systems that need modernization now, which can wait, and how a finite amount of money can still fund new programs. Among the OMB initiative priorities will be to develop a plan that “will identify milestones to remove all legacy systems incapable of implementing our zero trust architecture strategy within a decade, or otherwise mitigate risks to those that cannot be replaced in that timeframe.” Experienced contractors know that a 10 year window can often lead to distractions and conflicts with newer mandates. OMB is to be credited with trying to solve an acknowledged problem. They will need support from all stakeholders, though, if they are going to succeed.