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MGT Act Expert: Business Partners Help Agencies Obtain IT Modernization Funds

Government agencies need business partners to help them secure valuable federal IT modernization funding, said Richard Beutel, one of the authors of last year’s Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. Beutel delivered the keynote at a recent event sponsored by Unisys, AWS and GovLoop.

The MGT Act provides agencies an avenue they can use to request funding via the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The TMF was authorized to “allow agencies to invest in modern technology solutions to improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars,” according to Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) guidance released in February 2018.

The TMF offers agencies major modernization dollars that must be repaid, granting them incremental funding and technical expertise to ensure the success of approved projects. The fund received $100 million for modernization projects in fiscal 2018, and the president’s fiscal 2019 budget asks for $210 million more.

At the recent event, “Reaching New Heights: Accelerating Your Mission-Critical Projects to the Cloud Securely,” Beutel, who wrote the original legislation authorizing the fund, said that private sector expertise can give agencies the push needed for gaining TMF cash.

Beutel previously served as the Lead Acquisition and Procurement Policy Counsel for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and is the founder and leader of Cyrrus Analytics. He said industry partners can help government agencies craft the narrative that wins them the money by articulating how they’re going to improve, retire or replace legacy systems. “That’s where industry partners can really help the agencies,” he said.

TMF funds are granted by a seven-member board serving taxpayers, and the board examines multiple factors when judging funding proposals, including user impact, risk reduction, demonstrated savings, opportunity enhancement and team strength.

Beutel asserted that agencies seeking input on their plans can leverage business partner knowledge in a managed services pact for strengthening their pitch.

Specifically, they can help agencies decide when the transition to newer technologies should occur, determine if the project is acceptable and credible, decide whether to use shared services and ensure the new investment is flexible to address evolving threats. “These are things agencies need help with to articulate and to document,” Beutel said.

Beutel said that utilizing opportunities like TMF funding is important due to the necessity of modernizing government IT infrastructure.

“This isn’t optional,” he said. “We need a new paradigm. We need to drive cloud adoption. We have to. We don’t have a choice.”

“If we could just go forward and offer digital service options that are transformative, it’s going to make an enormous difference in our lives,” Beutel added of government agencies.

Beutel additionally noted that expertise, leadership, workforce development and upskilling are essential modernization traits that are worth the investment.

“Imagine a government that is transparent and responsive,” he said. “That’s the vision. That’s why we do IT modernization.”

“We don’t do it just for cybersecurity,” Beutel continued.  “We don’t do it so we have the next bright shiny object for the agencies. We do IT modernization to deliver modern digital government to the American people.”

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