Rep. Connolly Previews Legislative Efforts on Telework, Funding, Cloud

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

At MeriTalk’s FITARA Awards ceremony on Wednesday night, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Government Operations Subcommittee, offered his views on what Congress needs to tackle next in Federal IT, and previewed three likely pieces of legislation.

“I think with the new majority, frankly there will be more support, not less, for what we’re trying to do,” in the Federal IT space, said Connolly.

The congressman pointed to three key areas of focus for his subcommittee – increasing telework for Federal employees, codifying FedRAMP (the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) into law, and strengthening the MGT (Modernizing Government Technology) Act.

On telework, Connolly said he was disturbed by some recent Federal agency moves to cut down on the amount of telework that Federal employees can perform.

“We’ve seen some real regression at several agencies,” he noted, calling out the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture specifically. “In terms of legislation coming out of our subcommittee to the full committee, I would look for a telework bill that sets metrics, and reverses the regression.”

Connolly also previewed a bill to codify the FedRAMP program into law.

“We’re working with industry to make sure any glitches industry may have, we try to address in a forthright manner, but I intend to make FedRAMP one of my priorities,” said Connolly.

Rep. Connolly last year introduced legislation to codify FedRAMP and address what the congressman said are shortcomings of the program, including the slow pace of implementing standardized practices and realizing efficiencies in the certification process. The bill didn’t make it past the House Oversight committee, which was then led by Republicans.

He also pointed at last night’s event to implementation of the MGT Act, an area which frustrated members of Congress during their last FITARA Scorecard hearing, as an area ripe for additional scrutiny.

“We also want to fix MGT, because a lot of you have told us, ‘I’d like to take advantage of MGT, but our general counsel says we don’t have the authority.’ MGT is the law, and Congress has made it clear that we want to facilitate you in your efforts to modernize … that’s the intent of MGT and the purpose of MGT,” said Connolly. As part of an effort to bolster MGT, he also noted that the fight for funds for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) would be a priority.

While the House has a new majority, Connolly noted that cooperating with the Trump Administration on Federal IT issues has not been a big problem.

“I did go to meet with Jared Kushner and Chris Little at the Situation Room in the White House last year, and what they had to say is very much in sync with what we were saying, and with the goals of FITARA. I said, ‘If you really mean what you say, you’ll have our support,’” he noted.

However, he acknowledged that he has “some concern with the Administration,” sharing his skepticism on the Cloud Smart and DCOI (Data Center Optimization Initiative) policies released in recent months.

Connolly also praised the FITARA Dashboard for explaining agency scores more clearly, while taking a friendly jab at Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who also spoke at last night’s event.

“Will Hurd may look at that chart and get psyched, but most of us go ‘What? What’s that again?” joked Connolly. “I think they’ve done a great job to streamline that and make it more accessible and easy to follow.”

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