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Scott: ITMF paybacks won’t be an issue
If federal IT officials get access to money via the proposed $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund, they will have to get used to the idea of reimbursing the fund.
“I know paying back can be a weird concept for my federal friends” because they’re used to receiving appropriated funding, U.S. CIO Tony Scott said. However, participating agen- cies will save more than enough money to reimburse the fund, he added.
The ITMF was proposed in Presi- dent Barack Obama’s Cybersecu- rity National Action Plan and is still awaiting action in Congress. It would require agencies to build business cases for replacing aging, inefficient and expensive-to-operate legacy sys- tems. If proposals meet the criteria, agencies would essentially get a loan from the fund to build a more efficient and modern replacement.
In remarks at Citrix’s 2016 Security Summit in June, Scott said the fund would cause a dramatic shift in the cost model for federal IT spending.
He added that he used a similar approach to IT project capitalization when he was Microsoft’s CIO. “We established an automatic replacement program for servers,” he said. “In five and a half years, we didn’t need incre-
mental funding. We rode the techno- logical wave.”
At a Nextgov event on implemen- tation of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, Scott was even blunter about agencies’ obligations to pay back into the fund. Although he expressed confidence that
the savings would cover the costs in most cases, he said the ITMF would essentially involve written loan agree- ments, and “there is no stu- dent loan forgiveness in this program.”
“It’s a contract that you write,” he added. “No matter what happens, the money is coming back.”
of IT management issues at the Gov- ernment Accountability Office, said, “There are a lot of questions with the fund about how the payback would work.”
Madison Smith, a legislative assis- tant to Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), noted that “Con- gress’ ultimate power is the purse strings.” Legislators are warming to the idea of ITMF, but “I think there needs to be better answers on how the money will go
out and be paid back.” When asked by FCW about the ITMF’s progress on Capitol Hill, Scott said he was optimistic based on emerging bipartisan
“The talk has changed
[from] whether it’s a good idea to ‘how do we pay for it?’” he said.
Powner and Smith, however, said the chance of Congress approving the 50-50 at best. Smith added
He also noted that there
are precedents for such arrangements in govern-
ment, such as the General Services Administration’s
Federal Buildings Fund. And
he acknowledged that the
Office of Management and
Budget, GSA (which would
manage the fund) and congressional appropriators would all need to com- mit to holding agencies accountable.
Other speakers at the Nextgov event were skeptical. David Powner, director
“I know paying back can be a weird concept for my federal friends” because
they’re used to receiving appropriated funding.
ITMF was
that lawmakers are discussing alterna- tive approaches.
— Mark Rockwell and Troy K. Schneider
8/10 Cloud
8/18 DevOps
EPA CIO Ann Dunkin, USCIS CIO Mark Schwartz and U.S.
Digital Service Software Engineer Joe Crobak are scheduled to participate in ATARC’s summit on DevOps and agile’s influence in government. Washington, D.C.
8/24 Cybersecurity
Speakers at this FCW summit on resilience and
comprehensive cyber strategies include the Commerce Department’s Rod Turk and the Office of Personnel Management’s Clifton Triplett. Washington, D.C.
Justice Department CIO Joseph Klimavicz, Transportation
Security Administration CIO Stephen Rice and Army Deputy CIO Gary Wang are among the speakers at FCW’s Cloud Summit.
Washington, D.C.
July 30, 2016 FCW.COM 3

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