The FY19 Budget & IT–Decrypting the Sphinx

So we got a budget deal–what does it mean for IT?

The Trump Administration proposes spending nearly $45.8 billion on IT investments at major civilian agencies next year, a slight rise from the $45.6 billion in fiscal 2018, according to the 2019 budget proposal released Monday.

The investments would help agencies acquire, develop, and implement modern technologies that enhance digital service delivery. The FY 2019 President’s Budget includes $210 million for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), established as a key component of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) provisions in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

And, if MGT suddenly got more interesting to you, join government, industry, and Congressional leaders on March 1 on the Hill to celebrate MGT and start the ball rolling on the operational plan–register today.

The Trump Administration will drive government modernization by working at the junctions where these drivers intersect, rather than working in silos. That’s consistent with the Reorganizing Government Executive Order of March 2017. While it’s not about IT, it calls for a heavy focus on modernizing information technology, providing the data and tools to deliver visibly better results to the public, hold agencies accountable to taxpayers, and establishing a more nimble and agile management of the workforce.

“First and foremost, it is good to see the president’s budget reflect a lot of things we have been talking about for the past year,” said Mike Hettinger, managing principal of the Hettinger Strategy Group. Federal IT managers and industry have been calling for “IT modernization, the idea that we need to modernize citizen-facing services, and the need to modernize the way agencies do business internally, will empower agencies to make better decisions,” Hettinger noted.

“To see all of this reflected in the budget is exciting,” he said.

The $400 billion budget deal passed by Congress on Feb. 9, which included a continuing resolution to March 23, is a critical step in the IT modernization funding process, he noted. The budget deal busted through spending caps and suspended the debt limit for a year. Now, Congress will go back to work and rewrite appropriations legislation to fit under new spending caps.

“The hope is by early April, agencies will start to see funding coming to them at FY18 levels established in the budget deal as opposed to the continuing resolution levels they have been living with since Oct. 1,” Hettinger said. And, that is good news for Federal agencies and government contractors.

The budget proposal acknowledges that “Federal agencies have struggled with appropriately planning and budgeting for continuous modernization of their legacy IT systems, upgrading their underlying infrastructure, and investing in high quality, lower cost service delivery technology. Further, transition to provisioned services, such as cloud and shared services, remains slow.”

The lack of proactive adoption of cloud and shared services has resulted in agencies accumulating a backlog of technology maintenance work. The FY 2019 President’s Budget requires agencies to identify and budget for the modernization of specific high-risk legacy IT systems.

Cross agency priority goal teams will lead the execution of related administration priorities, such as implementing the recommendations of the Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization focused on network modernization, cybersecurity, and shared services. Plus, the administration will establish Centers of Excellence inside the General Services Administration (GSA) to focus on critical priorities such as cloud migration, data center consolidation, and modernizing call centers to better serve citizens.

The administration will work to strengthen fundamental capabilities such as the ability to manage data comprehensively, and to use data routinely to improve operations.

So, money’s set to flow–but not till April. Hope to see you at the Celebrate MGT Act reception on Capitol Hill on March 1–register today.

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