Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), explained the agency’s extensive portfolio of IT modernization work at a GSA oversight hearing held today by the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

While much of today’s hearing centered on non-tech subjects like the Trump Hotel’s lease for the Old Post Office building in D.C. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search for a new headquarters in the D.C. region, Murphy told subcommittee members about GSA’s work on technology modernization including the Trump administration’s work in improving government IT and employing shared services across Federal agencies.

“The modernization of the Federal Government’s IT infrastructure and applications is an important priority for GSA, and our agency has increasingly become a trusted leader and valued partner in helping improve agencies’ use of information technology,” Murphy said.

Specifically, she called out GSA’s work in helping agencies adopt agile IT procurement, manage the move to cloud services, improve the public’s access to government data sets, and modernize outdated legacy systems.

Unsurprisingly, Murphy focused on what she described as “perhaps GSA’s most visible IT modernization effort,” the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) which was created as part of the Modernizing Government Technology Act in 2017 and serves to fund Federal agency modernization projects. TMF made headlines this week with the White House FY2020 budget proposal’s inclusion of $150 million for the fund. While that’s less than the $210 million proposed by the Trump Administration in FY2019, it would represent a big boost from the $25 million allocated to the fund in the spending bill signed into law in February of this year.

Murphy explained that GSA, on behalf of an independent TMF Board, “provides broad support for the Board’s activities, including technical support and project monitoring for agencies that receive funds from the TMF.” In 2018, GSA had to oversee the $90 million that the Board awarded for seven projects at various agencies. “GSA is helping the Board ensure that projects are on track and delivering on planned milestones,” Murphy said. She also said she appreciated the subcommittees efforts to “provide additional funding for the TMF in FY2019.”

During the hearing, Murphy highlighted the work of the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), which maintains an Office of Information Technology Category. Murphy explained that the office “provides access to best-value IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions to Federal, state, local, and Tribal government agencies.” The office also facilitates $24 billion in government spending annually, and 98 percent of Federal agencies utilized its contract vehicles in 2018.

“GSA is also involved in several large-scale efforts to fundamentally transform the Federal IT landscape,” Murphy testified. “One such project is the Department of Defense’s Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS), to replace disparate legacy IT services for office productivity, messaging, content management, and collaboration.”

She said that by using GSA’s IT Schedule 70 contract vehicle, DEOS will be able to help the Pentagon improve interoperability and information sharing, as well as strengthen its cybersecurity posture. On top of that, Murphy said the move will provide greater insight into DoD’s IT spending.

Murphy then delved into GSA’s work on expanding shared services across the government. She said that shared services will help “improve performance, reduce duplication, and save Federal agencies money.”

Specifically, Murphy called out GSA’s work last year with the NewPay blanket purchase agreements. GSA awarded the purchase agreements to two firms to help modernize the government’s payroll solutions. In 2019, Murphy said that “GSA is prepared to lead agencies in the implementation of these solutions in an effort to modernize legacy systems and improve service delivery to agency customers.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.