At Subcommittee Hearing, Federal Chief Information Officer Provides Update on Federal Government’s IT Modernization Efforts

Sep 16, 2022
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (September 16, 2022)—Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a hearing with the Federal Chief Information Officer (FCIO)—who is responsible for promoting innovative IT uses and overseeing federal technology spending across government—to examine the current state of the federal government’s information technology modernization strategy.

 

“This moment is a crossroads in how government operates.  The pandemic fundamentally changed what people expect from government – and how they access programs, information, and resources from it.  We do not want to lose any lessons learned.  And we want to empower federal CIOs to scale IT solutions that worked,” said Chairman Connolly in his opening statement.

 

The Subcommittee heard testimony from Clare Martorana, Federal Chief Information Officer.

 

The Federal CIO described her plan to scale modernized IT across federal agencies and enable the government to successfully adapt to the constantly evolving digital landscape.

  • In response to a question from Chairman Connolly on the need to codify the Federal CIO position in federal law, Ms. Martorana said:  “IT is such a critical part of how we operate the federal government and deliver services.  I think that continuing to make sure that C-Suites at every agency have capabilities in addition to the CIO – in my private sector experience, I worked with other executives.  While they didn’t have the responsibilities I had, they had a keen understanding of and exposure to technology and the problems that we were trying to solve together to support our business or, in the case of government, our mission.  So, I think that continuing to focus on IT, federal IT, and cybersecurity – and how we can be best partners, both in supporting agencies in doing their mission and our critical oversight roles – I think we can continue to improve there.”   

 

  • In response to a question from Congresswoman Norton on the role and priorities of the federal CIO, Ms. Martorana said:  “The role of the CIO is really helping federal CIOs in agencies manage this very complex operating environment with a complex set of rules, regulations, binding operational directives. And it is really incumbent on this role to make sure we are playing an oversight role.  That we are measuring where we are able to.  That we are sharing best practices across agencies.  Every federal agency and CIO that I work with – we’re all trying to solve the same problems.  So, when one agency goes on an IT journey, for example, we want to make sure that we share those best practices across the entire federal enterprise.”

 

The Members asked the Federal CIO how she was improving public institutions’ customer experience, and the impacts those improvements had on people’s trust in government and confidence in democracy. 

 

  • In her opening statement, Ms. Martorana said:  “Over the past two years, customer expectations have risen to new levels, as the Chairman mentioned in his opening statement.  We must keep pace and accelerate even faster. We can deliver as a government on par with our favorite consumer brands.  By delivering products and services incrementally with the right technologists and senior-level support, it’s not only possible, it’s happening today in the federal government.”

 

  • In response to a question from Rep. Khanna on the importance of prioritizing customer experience, Ms. Martorana said:  “If anyone knows anything about me, they know that customer experience has been what I’ve spent the majority of my career working on.  Making sure that we are delivering the right products and services to the people that need them, and that they can engage with them seamlessly regardless of their abilities, is absolutely the cornerstone of what we work on.  If you think of cybersecurity as the foundation, IT modernization, and customer experience – they all work together in IT.  I have never worked on a successful project that did not think of all of those dimensions.”

 

The Members and witness also discussed the Biden Administration’s evolved cybersecurity strategy, which pivoted from a compliance-based to risk-based approach.

 

  • In response to a question from Rep. Lynch on vulnerabilities in software utilized by the federal government, Ms. Martorana said:  “Cyber threats facing federal agencies and the software that underpins the work of our nation has to be developed in a resilient and secure manner.  So, this week we released an OMB memorandum enhancing the security of the software supply chain through secure software development practices.  And that is a critical part of how we are going to direct agencies to make sure that we’re only using software from producers that comply with secure software development practices and standards.”

 

  • In response to a question from Chairman Connolly on improvements to the FedRAMP process, Ms. Martorana said:  “We’re on a path to really make sure that FedRAMP is the most robust marketplace it can possibly be.  But it is not meeting the need today.  To your point, there are many small companies, there’s innovative software that we would love to be able to have go through a FedRAMP program, but it is cost prohibitive for some of these small organizations.  So, we have actually asked members of my team to work collaboratively with GSA and the program team and really roll up our sleeves.  We need to fix this to make sure that not only are we supporting the supply chain issues and making sure there’s secure software development, but also making sure that we can meet the speed of the need of federal agencies to have some innovative technology available to them with the umbrella security of the FedRAMP seal of approval.”

 

  • In her opening statement, Ms. Martorana said:  “As Federal CIO, I have a really unique vantage point and the honor of bringing together leaders across government to drive progress.  We are collaborating closely on cybersecurity, which remains our top priority.  Working with the Office of the National Cyber Director and our OMB Budget colleagues, we are assessing where agencies are on their IT journey and ensuring they are making the right investments to strengthen their cybersecurity foundation and accelerate IT modernization.”

 

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117th Congress