Rep. Connolly Would Consider Adding Website Modernization to FITARA

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the House Government Operations Subcommittee, said today he would consider adding compliance with the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act’s (IDEA) website modernization standards to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act scorecard produced twice a year by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Speaking at an event organized by Brightspot, Rep. Connolly said he doubts there will be mass compliance by the Dec. 20 deadline for agencies to submit to Congress website modernization priorities and cost estimates. Tools like the FITARA scorecard, the congressman said, help break through inertia and spark Federal IT transformation.

“One of the things we may want to look at is adding a category [to FITARA] on websites as part of that score. People don’t like coming to Congress and getting an ‘F,’” he said at the Nov. 8 event entitled, How the 21st Century IDEA Legislation Impacts Federal Agency Websites. “To incentivize cooperation and use it as a tool for measuring progress, it would be perfectly logical to add [21st Century IDEA compliance]” to the scorecard, he said.

Federal website design is crucial to citizen experience, Connolly added. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website crashed during its first enrollment period, he said, it exemplified what could go wrong when agencies don’t prioritize IT.

“Websites are not just a nice thing to have or making it easier to do business,” Connolly said. “They are integral to the mission and they need to be seen that way.”

Also speaking at today’s event, former Federal CIO Tony Scott added that when citizens go to a government website, they are not looking for the agency’s organizational flow chart. Citizens seek out specific services and information, and Federal websites should be designed to reflect that, he said.

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