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Hice: Federal Digital Infrastructure Must Serve and Protect American People

Emphasizes Need to Continue Strengthening Protections Against Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). In his opening statement, Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) commended the progress made in updating the FITARA scorecard since last August, but voiced concerns about existing digital infrastructure and its shortfalls, including the SolarWinds cyberattack. Hice concluded by underscoring the importance of continuing to modernize federal digital infrastructure and ensure networks are secure.

The remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Chairman Connolly, thank you for holding this important hearing today.

I understand the intent had been to invite the new Federal Chief Information Officer, Clare Martorana, but due to a family emergency she was not able to be here today.  

I would like to extend my sympathies to Ms. Martorana and her family, and I look forward to working with her in the future.

I understand likewise the urgency to hold this hearing, I regret we could not have waited to have the benefit of her views. Hopefully we will have that at some point in the future.

FITARA—no doubt—has been a bright spot of bipartisan work for this Committee, and I look forward to continuing those efforts in regards specifically to the scorecard and its usefulness as it relates IT reform in the future.

While agencies have progressed over the past five years, the task—as always—is to ensure we are keeping the scorecard current and to make sure it is measuring the most relevant facets of the IT universe. 

I look forward to the perspective of our witnesses today on how the scorecard may potentially need to change as we continue going forward.   

Since our last FITARA hearing in August, the scorecard has been modified—gone is the software licensing inventory required by the MEGABYTE Act and, as Chairman Connolly has mentioned, agencies were receiving an “A” grade. 

It’s been replaced by a new category: Enterprise Information Systems.

This is the new contract vehicle for agency telecommunications and will finally bring many benefits including enhanced user experience and cost savings.

My hope is that its addition will drive agencies toward faster implementation, which has been a concern for many of us for a long time. We need to be able to meet the goals, not just have goals.  

But there have been more important events since our last hearing than the scorecard changes itself.

Of course, the biggest has been the SolarWinds cyberattack. This reinforces the urgency to do everything we can as policymakers to keep federal networks secure. That obviously is a major concern to all of us on both sides of the aisle.

In addition, a year has now passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple ways it stressed agencies’ ability to both operate and serve citizens in a remote, digital environment. As we look to the future, gauging how we will accomplish these tasks that certainly should be a top priority as well.

This goes hand-in-hand with the need to modernize aging legacy systems—also a very deep concern for many of us. These old systems simply are not able to manage the demands and expectations of Americans in the 21st century. We’ve got to replace these legacy systems.

In closing, I want to thank the witnesses for being here. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.

I am eager to hear your insight and suggestions, and I look forward to listening to your statements. I look forward to working with you as we go forward.

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Author: Amy Hasenberg

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