WASHINGTON – Today, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI), the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the Center for Procurement Advocacy, Internet Association (IA), and the Cybersecurity Coalition outlined key principles for government information technology (IT) modernization efforts to enable and enhance federal, state and local governments’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 response and relief efforts. In a letter to congressional leaders and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the technology trade associations urged policymakers to incorporate these steps in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and future stimulus relief efforts, in order to more effectively carry out coronavirus-related missions, maximize productivity, improve service delivery to citizens, and enhance cybersecurity protections for critical systems.
“In this new era of remote collaboration, we must take advantage of the opportunities created to modernize processes for efficiency, security, and cost savings, but must also act to reduce inherent risks associated with an increased reliance on connected technology that leaves agency networks and information vulnerable without appropriate safeguards,” the associations wrote. “In the CARES Act and in other legislation, Congress has made it clear that improving our digital infrastructure is a critical priority for America, and we urge you to ensure funding of the appropriate size and scope to address these obvious needs is included in any subsequent relief package.”
The ongoing COVID-19 health emergency continues to highlight the need for additional IT investments to ensure the United States is able to effectively respond to this crisis, including investments to support telework and telemedicine, dramatically improve citizen-facing services such as loan programs, state unemployment application processing and call centers, and to ensure that agencies at the federal, state, and local level have modern technology capabilities and infrastructure that can scale to address exigent circumstances. The groups highlight several key capabilities Congress and OMB should leverage to better define the scope of funding required to address key operational issues and ensure that any money made available can quickly and effectively be directed to pressing modernization needs.
The groups noted that existing government IT systems and processes have already hindered some federal and state agencies’ ability to deliver aid to new applicants for small business loans and unemployment insurance during the pandemic.
To address these critical gaps, the groups recommend additional pandemic legislative relief packages:
- Provide adequate funds to modernize IT systems used by agencies working on the front lines of this pandemic and future emergency responses, with a key focus on cloud adoption, digital services, scalable IT infrastructure, and technology transformation;
- Ensure funds are made available to support to state and local government agencies in need of IT modernization and upgrades that, in turn, will enhance the speed and effect of relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent emergencies;
- Support the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) at an appropriations level that would allow for meaningful investment in cross-agency IT modernization initiatives; and
- Ensure that IT modernization efforts include focused attention and investment on strengthening cybersecurity, workforce training, and process transformation.