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Hurd on the Hill: Unleashing Innovation

November 27, 2017
Hurd on the Hill
Curing a plague that has hindered our government for decades

Imagine the following hypothetical scenario: you could buy either one of the first cell phone models (the one that could basically double as a brick) for one price or the latest smartphone for a cheaper price. Which would you buy? In too many instances, our federal government has been systematically choosing the equivalent of the first option: to spend more money on outdated, unreliable products instead of the cheaper, more advanced options.

The American people send a lot of money up to Washington each year, and it is outrageous that the federal government wastes billions of these hard-earned dollars each year maintaining IT systems that aren’t just outdated, but also leave our digital information – from employee records to government intelligence – susceptible to cyberattacks. In fact, our federal government spends nearly 80 percent of more than $80 billion on simply maintaining existing IT systems. The bulk of this funding is spent keeping outdated systems alive when some are nearly 60 years old! Not only are many of these systems insecure, they’re becoming increasingly costly. It’s the 21st Century; we should be taking advantage of 21st Century tools.

We have continued to use horse-and-buggy technology throughout every federal agency for decades and reform is long overdue. Imagine being able to renew your passport online. How about our military veterans not having to take hard-copies of their health records with them to the doctor? It’s 2017. The American people deserve better from their government.

This is why I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the last two years to implement landmark IT Reform that will make our government smarter, more cost-effective and more efficient. I am pleased to announce that my smart government bill, the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, was approved in the House and the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and is expected to be signed into law by the President any day.  The bill incentivizes federal agencies to transition their IT systems to more modern platforms like cloud computing by eliminating the traditional use-it-or-lose-it approach that has plagued government spending for years. With this bill, agencies will be able to bank the savings obtained as a result of a transition to cheaper and more modern technological solutions. They can then use that money to modernize other systems, creating a virtuous cycle of modernization and ultimately, savings.

In the past, there has been no incentive for agencies to modernize because they have been unable to keep the savings as a result of modernization. This has kept our federal technology systems decades behind the private sector and has hindered our government’s ability to provide quality and timely services to the American people.  

Finally, we’re curing this plague that has hindered our government for decades. Our technologies have evolved since the Stone Age, so should our federal agencies. This can happen now that MGT is a reality.

This will be my twelfth piece of legislation signed into law since taking office in 2015, and I’ll continue working to fix problems and find solutions that help folks in the 23rd District of Texas. I’m here to represent you. As always, please continue to reach out to me with any questions and concerns, and I encourage you to subscribe to my e-newsletter at hurd.house.gov/contact/email and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @HurdOnTheHill.