Trump’s OMB Nominee Poses Obstacle to IT Spending

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President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget poses challenges for IT acquisition in the next administration.

(Photo: mulvaney.house.gov)
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (Photo: mulvaney. house.gov)

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., has consistently opposed most budget increases during his time in the House of Representatives. He voted against the measure that would keep the government from shutting down in 2011, opposed some of his fellow Republicans’ budget proposals, and eliminated a $50.7 billion emergency relief bill for Hurricane Sandy by adding an amendment requiring that the money be offset dollar for dollar with extreme spending cuts. The amendment failed once New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized Mulvaney and other House Republicans.

“The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax-and-spend financial agenda, and will work with Congress to create policies that will be friendly to American workers and businesses,” Mulvaney said in a statement released by the Trump transition team.

Mulvaney has also voted against infrastructure bills. Trump, however, promised a $1 trillion program to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

Federal technology officials have said that cybersecurity infrastructure should also be included in Trump’s infrastructure rebuild. The Department of Homeland Security was considering classifying election technology as critical infrastructure during the presidential election in order for the Federal government to ensure that the state-sponsored system had the appropriate cybersecurity protections in place. DHS ended up not classifying the election system as critical infrastructure, but instead offered its support with cyber issues to all states.

The Modernizing Government Technology Act, which passed the House by voice vote but didn’t pass the Senate, was estimated to cost the government about $9 billion, because the congressional budget doesn’t offset costs with savings.

Government IT leaders said they will continue to push for a government IT modernization fund that would help agencies get rid of legacy systems and move to the cloud; however, it would still need OMB to oversee the use of the money. It’s unclear whether Mulvaney supports this type of spending because the voice vote allowed it to pass rather than a roll call vote, which marks each member’s stance. Mulvaney did not respond to a request for comment on this issue.

Mulvany takes interest in current technology issues as seen by his membership in the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus, which shapes policies that seek to improve digital currencies such as bitcoin. Bitcoin is a token that allows people to trade over the Internet without using any intermediaries such as banks. Blockchain records every interaction on a public ledger.

Mulvaney is also an advocate for online privacy who offered two amendments to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The first amendment required the government to delete any data it acquired that didn’t pertain to cyber threats. The second would sunset the bill after five years, forcing Congress to reauthorize it.

“The sunset amendment provides that the law would cease to have effect after five years unless it is reauthorized by Congress–a check on possible future abuse,” wrote Mulvaney on his website. “Other important amendments also passed to strengthen civil liberty protections, such as making the Department of Homeland Security–not the Department of Defense–the central agency for receiving data, making clear that the government cannot target U.S. citizens for surveillance, and further protecting individuals by limiting how data can be shared and used.”

Morgan Lynch
About Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.
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