After 15 FITARA hearings over the last seven years, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., confirmed that FITARA oversight hearings will continue under the leadership of Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. – the new chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation.

Rep. Connolly, who is ranking member of the panel and one of the prime movers behind enacting the 2014 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), also previewed that the two lawmakers are looking ahead to “new frontiers” of the FITARA Scorecard.

At Wednesday night’s FITARA Awards and FedRAMP Celebration – the awards ceremony hosted by MeriTalk to recognize Federal agencies that are notching superior progress in IT-related measures on the FITARA Scorecard issued by the committee – Rep. Connolly parted the curtains on the future course of the scorecard.

“We have had 15 oversight hearings on FITARA over seven years – 15. And I just got a pledge from my new subcommittee chair, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, we will continue to have oversight hearings on FITARA,” Rep. Connolly said.

“And why is that important? Because it’s important to maintain that progress. It’s important for change agents within the Federal government to know that they have an ally on the Hill that will be having their backs and pressing,” he added.

The ranking member explained how the FITARA Scorecard has made fundamental impacts since the underlying law was approved in 2014.

For example, he said the Federal government now understands that who technology leaders report to matters. Chief information officers (CIOs) are now elevated within their agencies to ensure they are part of key conversations about mission execution. FITARA has driven the percentage of CIOs with a direct or partial reporting relationship to agency heads to over 90 percent, from just over 50 percent before the law was passed.

The congressman also pointed to retiring old data centers as another win under FITARA. Since 2015, the Federal government has closed more than 4,000 data centers, increasing data security through migration to the cloud and saving taxpayers about $4.7 billion.

“Not many bills can claim that, but we can,” Rep. Connolly said.

The Future of FITARA

Looking ahead to FITARA 16.0, the congressman stressed the importance of the scorecard’s continued evolution and relevance.

Rep. Connolly told MeriTalk that the subcommittee plans to continue to work with stakeholders to finalize a modernized cyber score using new metrics from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Additionally, he pledged to continue to push the CIO reporting authority metric and direct agencies to self-report their CIO’s control over IT spending and acquisition – in addition to the status of codifying their CIO reporting relationship.

“We want to move into new frontiers. And Miss Mace and I are going to be doing that in AI, in cybersecurity, and in other fields and endeavors as well, to make sure that America is competitive and to make sure that the Federal government is at the cutting edge.”

“And the good news is, we’ve created partners to do that both in the Federal government – lots of CIOs who are in fact enthusiastic change agents and have been partners in the enterprise – and also in the private sector,” he continued.

On the FedRAMP front, Rep. Connolly applauded the program’s recent codification into law, and said he looks forward to working with both the private and public sector “in making sure it gets implemented and that it does what it’s designed to do – to expedite the ability of private entities to compete for Federal business in the cloud.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s a lot more to be done,” he said. “And I look forward to working with you and with my colleagues here in Congress, especially after the lessons learned in this pandemic.”

“I hope my colleagues have had a chance to really reflect on the criticality of IT, and that we need to make those investments to make sure that, if there is another pandemic ever in our future – and God help us I hope not – but we’re up to it. And we’re going to be able to continue to provide services to the American people uninterrupted because we made those investments in IT and the personnel who made it possible,” Rep. Connolly concluded.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.