Gartner identified the acceleration of legacy modernization as one of the top ten government technology trends for 2022. Taos (1) However, the budget for modernization is still a big hurdle for many agencies. In addition, they must also plan for and fund programs to meet zero trust strategy deadlines laid out by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGTA), signed in 2017, created a Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), but it requires repayment by the borrowing agency in most cases. Some agencies have struggled with a repayment strategy and have thus been hesitant to request funds. The American Rescue Plan provided an additional $1B in TMF funds to assist agencies with urgent modernization needs and allowed partial repayment to provide more options for agencies. (2)
The other source of IT modernization budget, IT working capital funds, has not yet been widely adopted. As of April 2022, only two agencies have set up IT working capital funds under MGTA, three more have requested authority to create them, and two have existing working capital funds to use. Yet the technical debt is estimated at $7B. (3)
Zero trust programs also need funding. Some agencies have already applied for and received TMF funds to begin the shift to zero trust architecture. (4) In addition, the White House has requested $10.9B in cybersecurity-related funding for federal civilian agencies for FY23, an 11% increase over last year, some of which will go towards implementing zero trust. (5)
Budgetary issues will require careful planning, but combining IT modernization and the move to a zero-trusted architecture may offer economies of scale. Transitioning legacy systems to the cloud with zero trust in mind from the start can minimize the number of changes, thereby minimizing cost. Those legacy systems will need to be included in zero trust one way or another, so evaluate if modernizing them now will prove the most cost-effective option.
1 – Gartner Unveils the Top 10 Government Technology Trends for 2022, Gartner, February 2022
2 – Guidelines on the American Rescue Plan Funding , The Technology Modernization Fund, March 2021
3 – Treasury wants to join the growing ranks of agencies with IT working capital funds, Federal News Network, April 2022
4 – OPM speeding up zero-trust security implementation with TMF funds, FedScoop, March 2022
5 – White House reviewing agency zero trust cybersecurity plans, Federal News Network, April 2022