Bill to Update Federal Spectrum Tracking Included in Defense Authorization


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A measure to mandate the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other federal agencies modernize how they keep track of their spectrum use is now part of the defense authorization for FY 2021. The Spectrum IT Modernization Act requires NTIA and other federal agencies to update their IT infrastructure to manage federal spectrum.

The Senate Committee on Armed Services last week approved the National Defense Authorization Act, and it now awaits consideration by the full Senate.  

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) sponsored the bipartisan S. 3717. “The federal government is a significant spectrum user, and the management of these spectrum assignments is a critical responsibility,” said Wicker. He called the measure “a whole-of-government approach to spectrum management.” 

Inhofe called the Spectrum IT Modernization Act “a forward-thinking look at modernizing the technologies and infrastructures for managing federal spectrum. It highlights how, working together, the NTIA can meet the needs of the public and private sector through thoughtful management of spectrum.”

The Spectrum IT Modernization Act would:

  • Require the NTIA and other federal agencies to outline a plan for modernizing the information technology infrastructure used for the management of federal spectrum;
  • Require certain federal agencies, as determined by NTIA, to detail plans for similar modernization efforts of their individual spectrum management IT systems, to be interoperable with the proposed NTIA system;
  • Direct the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, working with the interagency Policy and Plans Steering Group, to identify a process for coordination to establish goals and parameters for the modernization of federal agency spectrum IT systems;
  • Direct the Assistant Secretary to submit a report to Congress with the plan to modernize the spectrum management infrastructure of NTIA. The report shall include an accounting of the agency’s existing spectrum IT systems, an acquisition strategy for the modernized infrastructure that details the timeline and cost estimates, information for how the proposed infrastructure will improve spectrum management, and a strategy for continued interagency coordination between agencies;
  • Require the heads of covered agencies, as determined by the Assistant Secretary, to submit a report describing the agency plan for modernizing their spectrum management infrastructure to be interoperable with the proposed NTIA infrastructure;
  • Require a GAO review of existing infrastructure, as well as ongoing oversight of any implementation of the modernization plans submitted by NTIA and the covered agencies, with periodic reports to appropriate congressional activities.

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