Subcommittee Held Biannual Hearing on Agency Compliance with FITARA and the Administration’s Federal IT Priorities
Washington, D.C. (July 29, 2021)—Yesterday, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a biannual hearing to assess implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) and hear from the Federal Chief Information Officer about the Biden Administration’s federal information technology (IT) priorities. The Subcommittee discussed the twelfth iteration of the FITARA Scorecard, which showed agencies’ improvements in updating their IT practices.
“The importance of federal agencies’ effective use of IT is too great to ignore, and this Subcommittee will not waiver in its continued oversight of agencies’ IT acquisition and management. We need our CIOs to succeed. FITARA remains an effective tool to empower these CIOs and catalyze IT improvements across the enterprise of the federal government,” Chairman Connolly said in his opening statement.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Clare Martorana, Federal Chief Information Officer at the Office of Management and Budget, Keith A. Bluestein, Chief Information Officer at the Small Business Administration, Sean Brune, Chief Information Officer at the Social Security Administration, and Carol C. Harris, Director of Information Technology and Cybersecurity at the Government Accountability Office.
Witnesses discussed the leverage FITARA gives federal CIOs to more effectively do their jobs.
- Ms. Martorana testified: “Technology powers each agency in being able to deliver on its mission for the American people. It’s FITARA that gives every Chief Information Officer (CIO) a seat at the table to make the best enterprise IT decisions to deliver for their workforce and our citizens.”
- Mr. Bluestein testified: “I would like to highlight how FITARA provided the underlying support for the successful almost exponential expansion in personnel and technology that was so vital to SBA’s surge in capability. Specifically, FITARA had solidified the coordination and collaboration between the CIO and the Chief Human Capital Officer and the Chief Procurement Officer.”
Witnesses stressed the need to use lessons learned from the pandemic to modernize the way federal agencies do business.
- Mr. Brune testified: “The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how important IT is to our service delivery, and highlighted the successes of our IT Modernization efforts, as well as areas for improvement …. However, the pandemic also emphasized the need to expand availability of secure self-service options for our customers, and to restructure outdated work processes, like debt remittances, using modern technology.”
- Ms. Martorana testified: “As we focus on the transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding the American economy, modern technology is essential to our long-term success – and it will enable our government to draw from the full diversity of our nation in recruiting the next generation to fulfill a call to public service.”
Witnesses emphasized that more attention and improvements are needed for the federal government’s IT and cybersecurity practices.
- Ms. Martorana testified: “Having come to the Federal CIO position directly from OPM, I can tell you firsthand that CIOs across government are faced with an enormously challenging environment – managing agency technology portfolios at different levels of funding and maturity, working to retire legacy IT while trying to launch modern platforms, and most importantly, identifying vulnerabilities and ensuring the cybersecurity of their networks. The increasing number of sophisticated cyber events in recent months has highlighted our need to rethink how we approach cybersecurity.”
- Ms. Harris testified: “In its March update, GAO also stressed the importance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and federal agencies fully implementing critical actions recommended to improve the management of IT to better manage tens of billions of dollars in IT investments. … Until OMB and federal agencies take critical actions to strengthen efforts to address these important high-risk areas, longstanding and pervasive weaknesses will likely continue to jeopardize the nation’s cybersecurity and management of IT.”