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Richard Spires, Principal at Richard A. Spires Consulting, discusses investment in IT modernization across government in the next administration

The Information Technology Industry Council expects investments in IT modernization to go up under the Biden administration. The FY2020 IT budget is about $88 billion.

While the IT budget has remained around $80-90 billion for a number of years, the pandemic has changed some of the investment profiles of agencies, said Richard Spires, former CIO of the Department of Homeland Security.

Future investments will depend on who ends up having control of the Senate, he added. “If the Senate were to flip to the Dems, I think we’ve got a chance to see significant increase in IT modernization spending moving forward.”

In a recent GAO study, only 3 out of 12 agencies had really solid IT modernization plans that dealt with both adding new systems and replacing legacy systems, according to Spires. Along with putting in strong IT modernization plans on an enterprise basis, agencies should move towards zero-trust models within those plans. Additionally, agencies should bring in the Cybersecurity Risk Management Framework from NIST to prioritize their investments in cybersecurity, Spires said.

“We need a wholesale change in the way we’re going about IT, and I think it begins with that good planning,” said Spires. He said whoever is in charge at OMB in the next administration should require agencies to go through this planning exercise and take from the best templates that are already out there.

Spires said the new administration can build on some of the successful IT initiatives from the Trump Administration. “There’s a lot of good work that was done under the President’s Management Agenda – don’t throw that out. Build on it … frankly one of the big focuses was on IT modernization. I just don’t think they took it quite far enough,” said Spires.

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