OMB reveals proposed guidance on federal IT modernization

The Office of Management and Budget has played it close to the vest when it comes to guidance on IT modernization, but it’s finally showing some of its cards.

In an Oct. 27 blog post,  Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott lays out in detail four phases for implementing modernization of information technology systems, which will help “ensure the federal government can best serve the American people in the 21st century.”

“Modernization would improve the ability of these systems to deliver the necessary levels of functionality, security, and efficiency to satisfy and secure the needs of agency users, stakeholders, and the American public,” Scott said in his post. “Today’s proposed guidance starts down this path by asking agencies to develop and implement targeted modernization plans for specific high-risk, high-priority systems.”

The phases are:

  • Development of updated enterprise road maps
  • Identification and prioritization of systems
  • Development of modernization profiles for high-priority systems
  • Execution

The policy requires agencies to submit strategic plans, or “enterprise roadmaps” on their present and future business and technology portfolios, the post states.

Agencies must also identify and prioritize their systems for modernization using OMB’s criteria.

“Using the established criteria will provide uniformity across the government,” the policy stated. “The criteria are based on security risks, operational risks, business suitability, modernization impact and ability to execute.”

Under the policy agencies are required to submit “modernization profiles” of information systems assigned for modernization, retirement or replacement.

These profiles, Scott wrote, will help with budget planning. Depending on whether or not Congress gives that agency money, funding could be used to “supplement and accelerate modernization efforts proposed in agency budget submissions.”

Public comment on the proposed policy is open for 30 days.

Earlier this month, Scott told Federal News Radio’s Executive Editor Jason Miller, his office was readying guidance in case Congress passes the Modernizing Government Technology Act.

Scott is a champion of IT modernization, and has been calling for reform since the President’s budget — which included $3.1 billion for a modernization fund — was unveiled in February.

Shortly after the budget was published, Federal News Radio obtained a copy of OMB’s draft policy, which also included four phases that are not much different than the ones in this latest blog post. They were criteria development, identification and prioritization, modernization planning and execution.

This summer Scott made the call for an alternative to the IT Modernization Fund. A handful of lawmakers answered with the bipartisan Modernizing Obsolete and Vulnerable Enterprise IT (MOVE-IT) Act.

Last month, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) introduced the MGT Act, which combines the two bills. It passed the House and moved to the Senate, which did not act  on it before heading out on recess in late September..