The Senate has included the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act as part of the Defense Authorization bill, a major step in providing federal technology leaders with additional funding to improve outdated technology.
While the bill must go through a few more legislative hurdles before becoming reality, the MGT Act has the potential to serve as a game-changing piece of legislation. Federal agencies currently spend more than $80 billion on information technology with 75 percent going to simply maintaining old and outdated systems.
With the MGT Act’s flexible funding options, the government can move one step closer to the modern era — tackling dangerous cyber vulnerabilities and better protecting the American people from increasingly severe attacks – while empowering agencies to move forward with long-overdue projects to streamline how the federal government operates.
Security needs to be at the heart of technology modernization. Legacy systems are slow and inefficient, but they are also a major security risk. They do not communicate well with newer systems, creating blind spots in visibility. They require special knowledge to maintain. They, in short, cause major headaches.
If fully passed, the MGT Act provides an avenue to improve this situation. Government has taken major steps to improve security in recent years. For the longest time, the approach around security was to plug best-of-breed solutions into different aspects of the enterprise with the belief that the best pieces made the most complete solution.
That turned out to not be completely true. Instead, agencies are now learning that working with an end-to-end security system that protects data at each stage of its lifecycle is optimal. These new systems can link cloud and on-premise solutions, creating an enterprise that is completely visible to security teams. Not only does this improve security it allows agencies to further integrate new solutions more seamlessly.
The federal government continues to face a big challenge when it comes to modernizing IT systems. The MGT Act provides a critical step, but can only help so much. The key for technology leaders going forward will be to use the MGT Act where possible, but also continue to look for ways to integrate modern security systems while reducing that legacy IT. Simply continuing on the same road is not an option. The MGT Act can provide a valuable tool that will be incredibly helpful. It can also serve as a catalyst to make other major changes in government technology, including the strengthening of the overall security posture.