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tv   Hearing on Federal IT Systems Coronavirus Pandemic  CSPAN  July 20, 2020 1:36pm-3:45pm EDT

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co-morbidities. we know young people are asymptomatic when they get he infected with the disease, so access to realtime data helps us respond in a more nimble way. so certainly accessing data from hospitals is critical, and we're happy to partner with them for this. doctor, i'm going to bring a close to this. thank you for he giving us 30 minutes i'm sure your schedule is absolutely chockablock. we're lucky to have you in that seat. thanks. >> mike, thank you very much. it's been an honor to be here. live now to a house oversight hearing on the federal government's i.t. system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemics. >> can you mute yourself for us? thank you.
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>> do we ask everyone to turn on their cameras? we're getting ready to get started.
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the hearing will come to order. i welcome everybody to this hybrid hearing. both ranks member mr. hysse and myself have wanted to have hearings resume in person especially when we are in session. i made a promise that i would fight for that, and today is the
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fruit of that effort. i believe when we're in session protecting everybody, those who are not comfortable or physically cannot join us in the hearings room, are more than welcome to join us through web i no noor. we ask everybody when they were not speaking, to wear a mask. i really appreciate that cooperation of for members appears remotely. house rules require that we see you, so police have your cameras turned on at all times during the course of the hearing.
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if they can let us you can use the chat function to send a request. and if that doesn't work, you can unmute and seek recognition. these aren't ideal circumstances, but we are in the midst of a pandemic that is tragically growing rather than contracting, so we want to make sure we are safe.
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we will do the federal government's response has exposed some fundamental weaknesses that have to be fixed millions of americans facing illness have provided unprecedented levels of economic assistance. that prevented them -- the cares act, overwhelmingly passed was signed into law on march 27th.
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we still do not have the -- tasked with facilitating more than 750 billion in small business loans and grants. and in my home state of virginia, certainly times of unemployment claims will not be available until august, due to the state's failure to update its i.t. systems. the public policy response was there, but the i.t. systems obvious couldn't deliver. to deliver in an emergency, and that should galvanize us all. it's been reported that 21 million people did not receive
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their stimulus care, because he they could not find accurate information. hundreds of thousands were shot out of sba system for submitting loan applications. for every ten people who successfully filed for unemployment, an additional three to four were unable to submit claims online. s that's a big problem. issues are not news to us we had the reform act to help federal agencies prioritize modernizati modernization. the act also coming you've this committee was passed to enable agencies to establish working
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capital funds, to help them to use savings in order to further invest in upgraded agile system and transition away from legacy systems, which were often 30, 40 years old. the law also created, coming out of this economiee again, the modernization fund which established a government funding source for agencies to remove and replace those legacy systems, and upgrade their own. and this is ilextra tiff of the small thinking which unfortunatelily is prevailed when it comes to making i.t. investments. agencies responsible for performing critical functions operate on legacy systems with components, sometimes dating back even 50 years. the government accountability office found the ten most critical legacy systems in need of modernization and maintained
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by ten different federal agencies, each performing essential government operations. as they age, these legacy systems become more expensive to maintain, more vulnerable to cyberattacks, less effect ivlg in accompanies agency missions. fema's public alert warning system fails, millions of lives could be lost during a natural disaster, because lifesaving information was not delivered to the public in time. if the department of interior system that monitors power plant stalls, thousands of communities could be left without power. simply put, outdated and inefficient systems put american lives as well as livelihoods at risk. as we heard from organizations
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nonetheless, the large-scale shift to telework highlighted. underlying i.t. this it's been reported increased risk of data breaches, disclosures of classified information, and targeted cyberattacks and fraud schemes affecting financial aid to small business and people affected by the pandemic. going forward, federal agencies will need to quickly retire their legacy systems and priority ice modernizing i.t., like adopting cloud computing technologies through fed ramp, a program that enables agencies to quickly secure and adopt new technologies. i'm grateful for the fact that in the defense authorization bill we are considering today on the floor, in the first en bloc group of amendments, or bill
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that came out of this committee is included. in 2019, 13 agencies reported to gao they achieved at least $291 billion in savings from increasing their investments in cloud technologies. i hope we can continue to advance the bipartisan fed ramp authorization act that passed the house by voice vote, into law and signed by the president on a bipartisan basis. modern rye liable i.t. is not just a nice thing to have. our federal government's consistent failure to prioritize, and program delivery prevented the public from receiving the assistance congress authorized to help the nation weather the worst global pandemic in 100 years. we can no longer allow outdated and legacy technology to stymie the delivery of vital services. we will need to rip out root and
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stem sisms that have hung around for decades, because the replacement costs have been prohibitive expensive, because if do so is a matter of saving the american economy from collapse, almost anything is cheap by comparison. with that, i call upon the distinguished ranking member for his five-minute opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate a great deal you working with us to make this hearing happen. i really am grateful for that. i would say, though, that we -- guidance to wear masks are one thing, and committee rules are another. there's no question that in this room right here we are well beyond the guidance that the cdc recommends, and we have had some
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who are not here today because they feel as though we are too strict in the requirement of the mask. so i would ask, as we go forward, that we would continue to work through this to see how we can accommodate all members who would like to participate in hearings within the cdc guidelines as well. >> i will, as i have on having a having a hearing, i will work as diligently as i can with him. i will, however note, that the committee is followed guidance of the capitol hill figures. it isn't just cdc guidance, and we also -- well.
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>> i also appreciate you holding this i think we are all very much aware of the need for modernization in this area, the lack thereof. it certainly exposes us to security risks as well as inability for flexibility and scaling up. ultimately our agencies were incapable of meeting the needs and the responsibilities they are required to do. yet we as a government continue to spend the majority of the budget on maintaining these legacy systems rather than taking us into the new era of computer needs.
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for example from 2010 to 2017, $450 billion was spend just to keep legacy systems running. that also represents $450 billion that was not able to be used for new technology. at the same time technology continues to move forward and improve while we are slow to procure any new capabilities whatever. it's time for us to look at reform. it's time to look at changes. how do we go about getting up to date. there's no reason we don't do so. i very much looking forward to witnesses today and appreciate you being here as we try to consider ways to reform the i.t. acquisition process and to prevent agencies from trying to reinvent the wheel, particularly when potential solutions already exist in the commercial
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marketplace. so specifically this committee is interested, i believe, in learning how and what congress needs to do to help agencies overcome some of the challenges that are presented by annual funding cycles that frankly makes it very difficult to tackle as it relates to i.t. modernization. so i'm hoping today that our witnesses will be able to help this committee understand how we can improve this whole process, in particular the technology management fund to help government replace legacy systems. we've got to become more modern and up to date rather than continuing to rely upon agile old systems. finally, i think there's got to be some accountability in this whole process to keep agencies responsible for the progress
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that they are making. of course there have been many hearings we've already had so the scorecard. somewhere along the way, there must, it appears to me, be some sort of incentive that must be involved to help agencies come along and to improve. so i look forward to hearing all these types of things as we move forward with the hearing today. i hope you'll be able to supply some of these answers. i want to thank all the witnesses for being here today as we participate in the hybrid hearing. mr. chairman, with that i yield ba back. >> thank you, my friend. he makes good points. our next hearing is monday. it is the tenth on the implementation. the good news, i think for the first time since we passed the bill there are no fs and no ds.
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but we still have to retire the legacy systems. i think the members. i'd like to introduce our first witness, senior vice president of policy for technology industry council. also joined by matthew cornelius who is here physically, executive director for alliance for digital innovation. we'll also hear from steve o'keefe, the founder of meretok. has done a lot to try to translate the scorecard. the director of strategy for new
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ameri america. if our three witnesses who are remote, if you would rise and raise your right-hand. we swear in our witnesses. if the other tee witnesses will raise their right-hand. can you all of you confirm you are doing so. do you swear or affirm the testimony you're about to give is the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. let the record show the witnesses have indicated in the affirmative. >> thank you. without objection, written statements will be made a part of the record. we ask all of our witnesses to summarize the testimony within the five-minute time limit. with that, mr. bit ko you are
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recognized for your testimony. >> thank you for inviting me to testify today. atmosphere privilege to discuss federal i.t. modernization. my name is gordon bitco. previously kroi at fbi and more than 25 years as experience as technologies and technology manager across public sectors. represents i.t. companies. we believe it's more important than ever for u.s. government to work together to support policies that promote effective government through technological leadership. the u.s. public sector, leadership by adopting policy, commercial products and serviceses, produce security, scalability that supports demand for digital services and data. that imperative to modernize is true at every government agency. ongoing pandemic with fast increase in remote work has
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accelerated the need for change the ability for federal agencies to switch to telework during the pandemic is a result of transformative activities in the last few yearers. incremental change, exponential growth, when stressed legacy systems fail catastrophically. we saw this in multiple state unemployment systems but many federal agencies provide critical service through all assistance. quality service americans expect and deserve means these systems must modernize. technological transformation can only happen if consistency and dedication to providing funding and addressing the policies and practices that restrain innovation and modernization with government technology. the department of justice center consolidation highlights many inhibitors of innovation. starting in 2014, plan to consolidate three core facilitators but two owned and operated by fbi including newly funded center constructed at an
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existing center in idaho. posted in february 2016, groundbreaking occurred in october 2017, opened last november and full operation for this september. it will already be out of date. to years ago consulted boit providing services and already fell short of their technical requirements. a new facility enabling doj to close data centers is progress. some applications will modernize, never a state-of-the-art facility and continue to host legacy systems consisting budgets. meanwhile invest in modernization will my great to commercial provides and innovative technologies and resources that dwarf dojs. government's limited technical and contract expertise, risk aversion, process inefficiencies unpredictable funding and all contribute to time lines of commercial best practices. at the same time the funding
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means legacy applications. fed i.t. isn't held together by duct tape. there are excellent professionals throughout government delivering quality information capabilities. the reality is it is still too hard for them to get to the front lines and focus on core long-term agency challenges. when government has defined unnecessarily complex requirements based on data business processes, the overhead of customized solution often made them over budget and underused. when the government has well-defined objectives and smartly engaged with industry the result has been successful and cost effective commercial services securely provided at speed and scale. adopting this approach empowers industry to create world-class for government, drive competition by leveraging standards and encourage innovation by opening markets to new companies, products and services. at the same time i.t. budget and acquisition processes must evolve to empower federal workforce to leverage capabilities. transformation change requires
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long-term strategic and financial commitments. the annual budget cycle forces agency planning staff to spend too much time managing budget process and too little making sure projects are well managed and funded. the planning staff needs to adapt continuous delivery mind sets. shouldn't be traditional schedules but outcomes that improve the mission and used both within and outside the agency. government using tools for managing i.t. investments such as the fit ara and federal dashboard need to update realities of i.t. quality. thank you again for inviting me and i look forward to your questions. thank you very much. mr. cornelius, you're recognized for five minutes. >> chairman connelly, ranking members thank you for the opportunity to testify on vitally important topic of i.t. modernization. my name is matthew cornelius,
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executive director of alliance for innovation. nonprofit organization made up of two dozen leading technology companies which focuses on empowering government to limit effective experience citizens deserve. our companies have a successful track record of modernization and lashlg complex enterprises across both public and private sector. we at adi are aware government's reliance fundamentally obstructs a modern, secure, digital government. today i will share challenges and opportunities agencies face and will offer some recommendations to improve speed, scale, success in modernizing legacy i.t. prior to adi i served in senior policies roles and general services administration where i led execution of several key government wide technology efforts including i.t. and president's agenda and technology modernization fund. i highlight these additional
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experiences as i believe they provide me with unique understanding of i.t. modernization i can share with you today. when i describe the government's legacy problem, i want to note it goes far beyond systems decades old. it is a cultural problem both inside government and out. for starters the government is averse to market precious and relies on woefully outdated business model that prytizes owning businesses inside agency. in addition little alignment of procurement and financial management processes to commercial best practices and agencies rarely have the appropriate in sentives to modernize and partner with truly innovative companies to drive mission outcomes. the recent report by pandemic response highlighted i.t. and cybersecurity major challenges faced by agencies during response to covid-19. the report opinion-pointed examples such as health and human services, nuclear regulatory commission and department of defense able to deal with significant
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disruptions of covid-19 because they were investing significantly in cloud computing and enhanced telework capabilities and digital workflows. possible because of the commitment to hit senior leadership a workforce able to buy and deploy these new technologies and a culture that embraces innovation. still more can be done. a second key to empowering and accelerating i.t. modernization is to ensure that agencies can easily and effectively acquire and use commercial capabilities for mission outcomes. some sector embracing cloud and other emerging technologies, too many hamstrung by procurement paradigms that lead to wasteful spending and poor customer satisfaction. adi has written extensively on the need for current law such as federal acquisition streamlining act which establishes commercial first framework. government must prioritize commercial off the shelf solutions easy to embed across
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i.t. enterprise more specific for agency specific systems. third, successful i.t. modernization requires many years of sustained investment and ability of leaders to make adjustments and address challenges that occur along the way. unfortunately the budgeting and appropriation process rarely provide flexibility to drive true digital. the current model restricts agencies to plan and invest wisely in modernization. the expansion of i.t. working capital funds as envisioned under the act would allow them to make smarter long ferm investments. ati specifically more money to technology modernization fund so the government can support digital transformation across the federal enterprise. finally, there's several options congress may consider to help accelerate modernization. for example, congress should overhaul decades old laws such as clinger cohen and e government act to provide current sustainable foundation
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for i.t. modernization more aligned to today's technology environment. congress should build on oversight successes made possible by fitara scorecard, update current metrics and new ones, clouded option, fed reuse and acquisition of commercial items. additionally congress can continue encouraging agencies to prioritize training federal workforce on current procurement, cyber and capabilities. modernization is impossible without a highly skilled capable workforce. most importantly, congress should consider -- continue to make i.t. modernization a critical issue that unites both parties, both chambers of commerce and both legislative and executive branches. in conclusion i.t. modernization is vital not only because it saves money and enhances cybersecurity it's primary means to comp tentsly deliver services to the american people. adi is proud to highlight modernization successes happening across the federal
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enterprise and to share our insights on eliminating costly wasteful legacy i.t. thank you again for the opportunity to appear here today. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much, mr. cornelius. i can assure you every single major vote on this committee since i've been here on this subject has been bipartisan. i have never had a partisan vote. in fact, it would be hard to tell the difference between us when we start talking about it, s i'm very proud of that. mr. o'keefe, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. chairman connelly thanks for your leadership on i.t. and workforce. i'm the founder of leading i.t. publication research and conference company. we are here for one reason, the pandemic made the federal community and cabinet secretaries, and for that matter the american public, get the
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importance of federal i.t. it's rodney dangerfield and winston churchill here. we don't get no respect. as churchill famously told us, never let a good crisis go to waste. a quick ironic fact, i testified on this subject, speed for i.t. modernization a decade ago on the senate side. i testified against cio who put nourt 25-point plan to modernize i.t. i argued it was too complex. there are only 10 commandments how can there be 25 points for i.t. and i proved to be true. so what to do? this is like a five-minute hamlet so let's bid is the players make haste. one, attack complexity. the time is right forfeit fitad
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"agt" to shine. they are mired in the slings and arrows of complexity. consider that complexity, it really is an alphabet pea soup. we have fitara, cap goals, and i'm just scratching the surface. this is madness. just looking at cybersecurity, einstein and now dhs gives us quiz mo. even einstein could not fathom all of that. how about we simplify and rebrand these initiatives and give them names that describe the function they perform, fit them together into a coherent narrative that explains the value they deliver and what about we pluck those programs all into fitara with tangible outcomes and metrics associated.
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so first off, let's attack complexity. second, fitara for the future, it's time to evolve. as we approach 10.0 fitara scorecard which i guess is coming out next week, legislation has proved a huge success so congratulations. but five years is an eternity in the i.t. space, and it's time to modernize fitara. let's make the fitara scorecard realtime plugging the scoring criteria into the i.t. dashboard. let's make the fitara i.t. dashboard the to be or not to be federal hit. this would kill confusion about what's measured in fitara and make fitara realtime epicenter in radically simplified federal i.t. government landscape. and as in shakespeare's plays relationships are important. we need to we had fitara and
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mgt. as you know part of the first act, hardwire tmf funding into the fitara scorecard. agencies that score below a c simply are not available to get tmf funds. the next point is appropriations, appropriations, appropriations. let's consider the ghost in the hearing room on tmf. when tmf was originally part of the first fitara package the legislation called for $3 billion in annual funding. tmf has never been capitalized with more than $25 million and most years it's actually been 2000 fu zero funded. we need to engage appropriators. back to church hill, we will never have a better opportunity to seize appropriators attention. here is an opportunity for you to get involved, engage through the trade groups to talk to appropriators about this issue. four point danger ahead i.t. sprawl and relief funding.
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as we look to enforceer involved fitara, we see new warning signs to the point to new i.t. sprawl ahead. cares and other pandemic relief bills provide welcome funding for i.t. modernization but in many cases they come end round around the cio's office and, indeed, fitara. america needs the relief, but beware of sprawl and any subversive i.t. subplots. should come from continues-of-inside the government community. while i know the community doesn't pick the next cio, i would be remiss if i didn't make a plea for the next administration to select cio that knows government i.t. from the start. i would laud the two that acquitted themselves very, very well as cios. however, bringing somebody in from outside government creates a massive learning curve. i already talked about the
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complexity. we should pick somebody that knows government hit. we have a lot of very qualified candidates. so it's a play in five acts. attack complexity, evolve fitara forward for the future, appropriations, appropriations, appropriations. look out for i.t. sprawl as we see relief funding come in, much needed relief funding, make sure come around cio's office in fitara. and we need to choose widely for our next federal cio, federal i.t. experience will ab huge plus. >> thank you, mr. o'keefe. thank you. >> thank you. >> hang, arnah shank, you are recognized. >> i am managing director of technology group of new america and think and action tank. i spent over 25 years working in technology and both the public and private sectors.
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i want to start with a story. lisa charles lives outside of charlottesville, virginia. the 42-year-old divorced mother of two typically qualifies for earned income tax credit. she works when she can but spends the bulk of her time attending to her older son's medical problems. his endocrine system doesn't function properly and he spends time in and out of the hospital. because he was below the threshold and had not filed 2018-2019 fax taxes. she had to claim her stimulus check using nonfiler portal. in march sitting beside her son at the hospital, she filled out the form. she really needed the money because she was behind on rent and facing eviction. to date she has not received the stimulus money for her children or the $2,148 she qualifies for
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under earned income tax credit. what charles didn't understand nonfiler portal prevents users from claiming eitc. as a work arn to file a stimulus, it files for its users unbeknownst to charles and billions of other americans. so when she attended to claim aitc because she had used the portal, the irs said she had already filed taxes and couldn't do so again. to remedy the situation charles must mail 1040 form for irs and wait for the agency to work through its backlog to get to her. in the meantime charles' bills won't wait. when it comes to federal i.t. carriers we're used to huge cost overruns and delayed launches but charles story is more and more what federal i.t. disaster stories will sound like.
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unless the federal government changes its approach to technology, badly designed terms layered on top of badly thought through process ending up in total failure of service delivery for people who need it most is our future. yes, it is true the federal government relies on i.t. systems that date back to the 1950s which doesn't help matters but two bigger issues created the catch-22 charles and billions of others are caught in. it's worth noting while this example is specific to the irs and the c.a.r.e.s. act, it could be happening with any agency and any new policy at any time. the first issue is that these systems were built for a time when people didn't use computers from home. they are built for phone, mail, fax, or in-person contact. the second issue is when government implements a policy, that pomsey implicitly relies on
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i.t. to be delivered but the policy creation process doesn't take delivery into account. congress is used to enacting policy and then have a reality. in today's world there's an entire component that must be put in place in order to make policy a reality. for monaco like the c.a.r.e.s. act it doesn't exist for people who need it until they are able to successfully file and need it. they need to think about how will people apply for this, how will people track their applications just as they track a package online. this transparency into government processes is essential. thinking about delivery means thinking about all the different types of people who might file for something, thinking about how they might file and what would go wrong.
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businesses would not survive yet it doesn't happen with i.t. projects. what's the solution? first, there needs to be a modern technology workforce inside the government, and this starts from the top. there must be a senior person at each federal agency who has a back ground in technology, who can bring that experience to bear on policy decisions. second, all policy decisions must include a tested delivery plan. that should start here in congress. finally, i want to touch on cost savings. when i.t. fails, it is expensive. we see cost overruns into the billions of dollars. bringing senior tech talent in-house while potentially expensive as a line item would likely lead to tremendous cost savings as there would be people who could advocate for building the right thing the right way the first time. there would be no need to patch unforeseen holes quickly as the irs was forced to do with the
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c.a.r.e.s. act. government would get it right, save money and serve the people the way it was intended. >> thank you, miss schank. thank you. i would note before calling on miss norton, if you look at the fitara scorecard, miss schank, you will see one of the categories for scoring is the empowerment of a cio to make decisions at the top and make sure that person reports to the boss so we're empowering and investing with authority as well as responsibility. we also as part of fitara when we actually wrote the bill were focused on the last point you made about bad projects or projects that go bad and able to pull the plug fiscally so we're able to minimize the fiscal damage.
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fitara encourages and authorizes that. okay. miss norton, are you with us? delegate congresswoman eleanor holmes norton, are you with us? >> can you hear me now? >> yes, we can. thank you. >> all right. >> there you are. >> the first thing i want to do is to thank you for this hearing. it's a very important hearing. you and i both represent many federal employees, so it's of special concern to us both. i do want to know that i've been concerned with the federal workforce for some time and have a bill. before we attain the majority aimed at recruiting new federal workers, i was astounded to find
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out that essentially only 20% of federal i.t. workers are under the age of 40, which meant we were just losing out and losing all opportunities. and mr. chairman, i do want to say that i did get back a thoughtful letter from director dale kavenous indicating some of the things the federal government has been doing in order to enter into the -- help the i.t. workforce enter into the 21st century. mrs. schank, this failure, i want to focus on this really abject failure to modernize the i.t. in the federal sector.
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whether that is simply resistance or failure to just keep up. mrs. schank? >> the question is -- >> miss schank, i'm sorry. >> to what degree is the lack of modernization due to resistance versus just lagging behind? >> yeah. active resistance as opposed to in exhibitions on the agency to move ahead. >> i don't think it is resistance to much as just not having a clear way forward. a lot of agencies have yet to
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see that without -- that the policy is reliant on delivery and delivery is reliant on i.t. systems. because that connection hasn't been made, so it's sort of a lack of interest or just understanding the importance of why you would want to bring people in to create a modern tech workforce or why that's relevant to the administration. >> relevant. mr. o'keefe, i'll start with you. have funds been at the bottom of this if we were to somehow come forward with an appropriation? would that be enough to get the attention of those in federal agencies or is it other kinds of resistance? >> thank you.
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i think funding was definitely a factor. we talked about requirement to fund tmf with egt and bring it together with fitara. the biggest challenge of all, i don't think it's active resistance issue to the question earlier, it's the complexity of what's gone on. it's an acronym soup, culture. how do we simplify and provide greater transparency to go forward. >> part of these workers who have been in the government for a very long time, do you think we need to wholesale retraining? you quoted statistics showing young people don't want to come into the i.t. workforce of the federal government. is that the problem, or is it a retraining problem? >> i think it's a problem on multiple front. yes, absolutely training is important. i don't know that federal government of late has been a particularly attractive employer for young people. now with the pandemic and the
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down turn in the economy we'll probably see government jobs being more interesting. i'm going to say that this recruitment notion, and they do say that they do recruit, i think that is a major issue of how you make the federal government jazzy enough so these i.t. -- young i.t. professionals want to come in. mr. cornelius -- >> i'm afraid the gentlelady's time has expired. >> i thank you very much. >> thank you mrs. norton. you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. cornelius, as i understand it one of the reasons federal agencies do not purchase commercial off the shelf items is because there's no incentive to prioritize those type of technologies over developed in-house type things.
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so from that mentality, what kind of policy solutions do you think need -- ought to be proposed in order to remedy that problem? >> thank you, congressman. so there's a couple of things there. i think both congresswoman norton's question and yours sort of dove tail together. part of it is incentive and part is an understanding. so the workforce that we should care about inside government is not just the i.t. workforce when it comes to modernization, everyone is an i.t. worker in government. everyone uses and leverages technology to deliver the programs, products, services, they are there to deliver. therefore we have to make sure everyone has a relevant understanding of what's happening in the technology market so that when we actually do go out and procure the vast majority of the technology that is used in government, that the procurement executive, technology executive, finance executive, hr executive, they all understand why the technology is important to them.
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so understanding and creating a better policy and understanding around how fast and how up to date the technology market is driving, that will create a better understanding when agencies are trying to retire old bespoke systems or acquire and use new technologies to pilot them and try to scale them in government they understand what is happening in industry so they can leverage it more effectively. >> okay. mr. bitko, let me say to you during your time as cio of fbi, what were some of your experiences to procure commercial i.t. solutions. and along those lines to what extent were there incentives to purchase commercial? >> congressman, thank you for the question. there definitely are incentives for the i.t. individuals to
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procure commercial products but as mr. cornelius said the issue is everybody is an i.t. workers and the mission users of those systems, they know what they want. what they frequently want is not the commercial product but something customized in some way. the result when that happens is you take a lot of time taking the commercial product and customizing it into something that becomes a legacy product that's difficult to maintain and support. i have a quick example that highlights that. for the fbi, the time and attendance system, you would think that's a standard commercial product, that everybody tracks time and attendance in the government and wants to know how long everybody works. the fbi had customized the time and attendance process over the years for a variety of reasons. some according to congress or internal management. but to the degree that the commercial product was no longer in sync with the customized version the fbi was using and result of that unfortunately is every time the vendor updated
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the commercial product it was many months of work, years of work to back fit those upgrades. the version the fbi was using in ways that would prevent it from catastrophically failing. so the crazy thing out of all that, the fbi time and attendance system still runs on a restricted network that's not accessible when you're out of the office. if you wanted to record time and attendance, you had to physically be in an fbi location to do that. so it's -- the disconnect, sir, is between the incentive to leverage and buy commercial product and all the business users, the mission users who have their own needs and figuring out how you balance cost and benefits between changing internal process so you can use the standard product versus adopting it in order to meet some unique need or mission. >> sounds like we are masters at complicating the issue, the bottom line. it doesn't need to be that way. mr. cornelius, i want to come back to you with this but i would ask all of our witnesses
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if you could respond in writing to this question because i'd be interested in hearing from all of you. what changes would you make to the structure and process for awarding project funds from the tmf? >> there's a couple of things. given the current amount of appropriations, which is somewhere short of $150 million, which is all it's gotten over the past three years, the best we can do is make small bore project delivery decisions. so the board has, from my time at omb, we had more than 50 projects that were submitted costing i think more than about $600 million and we only had $150 million with which to try and dole out to that. in doing that, you can only support agency specific projects. i think the model needs to be flipped on its head. first, i think congress, including former ranking member meadows, who was a big fan of the tmf now, current chief of staff, should be pushing to make sure a billion dollars in tmf funding in next phase 4, omb and
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gma looking across the federal enterprise to figure out where those investments should best be, whether individual agency or hopefully multiagency programs and process improvements and digital capabilities that agencies are learning about right now in the midst of the pandemic. i think if they had more money, plus if they loud for individual agency projects while also sort of looking across the federal enterprise to make enterprise investments, that could lead to tremendous benefits now to fight covid-19 as well as into the future and retiresome of these legacies. >> would my friend allow me to add to the point you're making? >> yes, please. >> you call for a billion dollars in the tmf, technology management fund, which is, in fact, provided in the h.e.r.o.e.s. act pending senate action. i think you would agree, and my friend would also agree, that $25 million appropriated in the last appropriation is simply, you know, meaningless.
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>> congressman, it is wildly inappropriate. i spent the last several years omb working with the budget process and appropriators not to talk about the value of tmf but find ways to do it. frankly outside of an emergency situation like this, where congress can go above and beyond the 302b allocations they have on normal fy appropriations cycle, you're never going to get that amount of investmentness omg and gsa agencies can really start to transform the government. >> thank you. i took some of my friend's time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just by way of reminder, i would like to hear from the other witnesses on this to get their answer as well. >> certainly. thank you. mrs. schank or mr. o'keefe, do you wish to comment? mr. o'keefe? >> i think the gentleman covered it down pretty well. last time i testified on modernization ga told us 777
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supply chain systems and 622 hr systems in the federal government. that was 10 years ago. i would guess there are probably more than that. so it's this ability to build that mr. bitko talked about, which i think is the real enemy, customization. >> thank you. miss schank, did you wish to comment? >> yes. yes. so the customization piece, we are working with slightly outdated view of how tech gets built. it used to be people would buy something and do a lot of customization. the example with the fbi system, that sounds to me like that was a really old system that was customized and updated repeatedly. i'm guessing. that sounds like a decades old system. i think that modern technology
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is a lot more flexible. of course there will always be some degree of customization. no technologist would start a product without thinking about what first exists in the marketplace. that's how you do it. nobody is sitting there thinking, oh, boy, i want to build something from scratch because it's fun. people will definitely look and see what's out there first. >> thank you. i will say this. the fbi example is one i happen to know about wearing a different hat. i can tell you part of the problem was the fbi. they kept on changing the scope of work. they kept on adding to it. they didn't have experts who understood the limits and expansive potential of technology. as a result they absolutely designed something that couldn't work, that would never work because they really didn't understand how to create the
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terms of reference for a real contract that could provide a real product that worked. so part of that problem is internal expertise in our federal agencies and even understanding the scope of their own needs. and having translation between the highly technical and operative at layman's level with the federal government. especially as miss norton pointed out, as our workforce ages and is less technologically savvy than the generations succeeding us, that gap grows. anyway, let me see. mr. lynch, are you with us in steve lynch. mr. lynch.
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is mr. massey coming back? no. mr. gruthman, is he coming back? miss plaskett, can you with us? >> yes, i am. >> great. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you to all of the witnesses who are testifying today. i have just a comment and then a couple of questions quickly. on march 16th the office of personnel management directed agencies to maximize use of telework in response to the coronavirus pandemic. telework proved critical to ensure continuance of government operations during the pandemic. nonetheless, the rapid shift to remote working exposed agencies to increase cybersecurity threats. so prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the fbi received about 1,000 cybersecurity complaints a day.
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that number has since jumped to between 3,000 and 4,000 complaints per day. the pandemic response accountability committee reported that since the pandemic hit, inspectors general have reported increased risk of data security breaches, disclosures of classified information and targeted cyber attacks and fraud schemes. so wanted to ask miss schank, how has outdated federal i.t. exposed agencies to unique cybersecurity threats during the pandemic? >> so i will preface this by saying i am not a cybersecurity expert. however, the combination of people working remotely and legacy i.t., it does not surprise me that there have been -- that cybersecurity has been an issue. and i -- it's really not my area, so i will stop. >> okay. do any of the witnesses have any
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comments or questions on how the outdated i.t. exposes agencies during this time to cybersecurity threats? if not, mr. bitko, before joining iti, you served as chief information officer at the fbi. at a high level, what cybersecurity vulnerabilities and federal i.t. systems did you detect? >> congresswoman, thank you for the question. i will rapid response to your question as well. an obvious connection there between them. i'm also going to caveat by saying as cio, my responsibilities were not in the fbi's cyber mission but in the management of the fbi's own internal i.t. resources. nevertheless, just the nature of the organization and executive within the agency, there's certainly numerous opportunities to be exposed and work closely with cyber investigative
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programs while i was at the fbi. the range of cyber incidents that are detected are too many to count. there are adversaries out there who will seek any opportunity they can to take advantage of weaknesses and systems. legacy systems are a very core part of that. both internally within the federal government, the opm breach is a really good example of legacy systems that were vulnerable since they were so dated monitoring them were difficult and wasn't done at the level it should be. you can translate that to a lot of vulnerabilities that the fbi saw at state or local governments subjected to ransomware attacks. many attacks weren't because there weren't solution toss mitigate those things but those locations, localities running outdated systems, hadn't been patched, cyber resources and the result was they were compromised. i think when you translate that to now, the pandemic, it's exactly the same but magnified.
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an opportunity for adversaries seeing a more distributive workforce leveraging all sorts of their own personal technologies and other ways to connect back to federal information technology systems and that presents an opportunity. the need to telework is clear, there's no doubt. but a lot of the security systems, operation centers designed to monitor and collect the data, they weren't built with the idea in mind that the workforce is going to be 20 or 30 or 100,000 agency users working from their home on the home computer and telecomputing over vpn or over virtual desktop. i think there is a real vulnerability there and we as a public sector are not monitoring at anywhere near the same degree we should. that's an additional complicating factor that makes the risk higher. >> miss plaskett, i wonder if
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you would have mr. cornelius respond to that as well, if that's all right. >> sure. uh-huh. >> thank you, chairman and thank you, congresswoman. i think what has come out of the covid response and the sort of maximum telework posture, agencies already expanding the use of telework within their agencies already had a workforce that was trained and capable of using these commercial technologies and these distributed technologies, like mr. bitko said working through vpns, virtual desk tops. agencies that digitized the workflows, and not just digitize workforce were able to make this happen more effectively. so i think -- i believe the gao and their detailed response to the initial steps to deal with the covid response both highlighted that agencies that were already working to expand telework had a trained workforce that knew how to do this so that they perhaps were able to better
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understand and spot phishing attempts through networks or try to get them to click on suspicious links or more capable of workarounds to meet their mission but work through agency protocols and processes to do this securely and effectively. >> thank you. and thank you, miss plaskett. >> yes, mr. chairman, thank you so much for the time. i'm just hoping at some point the witnesses can give us not only best practices but how should congress structure funding to help the government best modernize i.t. and meet these challenges. but thank you for this great hearing where we can discuss these issues. >> you make a very great point, congresswoman plaskett. i would just say i would hope that as part of the post pandemic assessment, we look at what did not work well and what did work well within the i.t. context to your point. if we don't take away the
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relevant lessons, we're going to repeat the mistakes. i have success stories as well. i think you're absolutely onto that and i'd be glad to work with you in perhaps talking to the gao to get ready for that kind of analysis. i assume mr. hice, you would join us in a bipartisan way. thank you. you're recognized five minutes. >> i'd like to make a suggestion. i love this hearing. there was a little disagreement at the beginning about the mask policy. i think as long as i've been alive i've never been around a topic in which the experts so consistently get things wrong. i keep getting e-mails from different constituents saying why do i have to wear a mask. while it's true you find experts who find it's good we're wearing a mask. there are experts out there that
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think we shouldn't wear a mask. i'm going to suggest we have a subcommittee on masks. it's certainly a hot topic back home. nobody back home asks me about i.t. and the government, they all ask about masks. it's good for ratings. >> you intrigue me. i would say to my friend, we could put it in the broader context of, you know, experts. >> experts on both sides. >> right. >> that might be a worthy hearing. we'll file that away. thank you. >> now back to the topic at hand. this will be there for mr. cornelius or mr. bitko. the technology management fund was intended to provide agencies with access to funding that was not bound by the annual appropriation process. can you describe why funding i.t. modernization projects should not be bound by single year increments? >> thank you, congressman. it's a great question. so most of the times we talk about retiring a legacy system
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it means it's a system that's been built over years and years and years with subsequent years of funding and sort of more technology or products glommed on top of it, which means if there's an agency plan to retire that system, the likelihood is that it's going to take multiyear funding, funding over multiyears to retire it. the system can't just shut off automatically. so you're going to need consistent funding in the out years to do that. as we know, there's oftentimes disagreements between the executive branch and legislative branch on funding levels and things like that so agencies often at the whim of appropriators and appropriations process to do that. so that's why an investment in technology modernization fund, know your dollars and the money is flexible. so if a project is going well, more money can be provided to help accelerate that modernization process and move it through more quickly. if it is going poorly, the tmf board can help course correct or
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help that agency remediate some problems or discontinue the project all together so that it's not a project where the agency is committed to years and years and years of a contract when they already know the project is failing. >> okay, thanks. i'll give you kind of a follow-up question, and miss schank wants to weigh in, too. as more americans want to interact sand receive critical information, understand the customer i.t. experience will be critical. what challenges do agencies face when they try to improve the design aspects of their systems? >> i'm happy to let miss schank go first or i'll go. >> miss schank. >> thank you. one of the huge barriers for agencies as they try to bring in
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customer experience into their systems is that there's lack of feedback loops that are currently in place. so traditionally when you look to incorporate user research, you have -- there's an easy methodology, an easy way to do that. a lot of agencies aren't collecting user feedback on specific pieces of how a certain agencies is filling its mission and in a meaningful way that plugs into the design of the system. does that make sense? >> yeah. do you want to follow up, mr. cornelius? >> congressman, i think, again, it goes back to that issue i raised in my opening statement about the legacy being a cultural problem. the dollars that any federal agency is using to spend on technology supports a system and a program that is there to serve the public. so the first issue before any agency thinks about a technology
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system or a program is sort of how is the execution of that program and the underlying technology that makes it happen, how do we know that's going to benefit the citizens whose taxpayer dollars are the ones funding it. i think if agencies can start with citizens are not just there to allow the government to execute on a mission but the citizens are the recipients of that mission and they should be provided those benefits and services effectively the same way they get on their iphone or with package delivery or anything else. i think that mindset of putting the citizen, putting the customers first would help sort of alleviate some of these bottlenecks we get where agencies are designing systems for themselves and not for the end user. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. raskin, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. quick point on the subcommittee
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health protocols. if there are members, as the ranking member suggested, but if there are members who are not coming in because they so resent the rule that we've adopted based on the capital physician's advice, there are also members like me who are here, in washington, at the capital and i'm in my office simply because i just -- i can't subject people in my family to the risk of having members not wearing masks for whatever reason they might have. i also think we should not be party to confusion and disinformation about masks. i'm not seeing any dispute at all from the expert medical authorities that we follow, the center for disease control is recommending cloth masks for everybody who is in public, in public spaces, as well as social
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distancing. the world health organization is recommending masks. if you look at countries that have actually brought the virus under control, like in europe, the masks have been central. it has been the president's dereliction of duty sending all kinds of mixed messages about masks that made us number one in case count and number one in death count around the world. so there's really no confusion about this, and we should not be spreading confusion. now, mr. chairman, the matter at hand, obsolete i.t. systems created a lot of headaches for our constituents seeking unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. at our hearing last month we found our government didn't shut down during the pandemic, it ramped up to deliver new and existing services amid these extraordinary challenges. at many agencies that had modernized before federal workers could continue operations and serve constituents effectively because
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their update systems allowed for remote work. not so for a lot of other agencies. we've been arguing for decades in the subcommittee that telework is important, and now the pandemic has forced government administrators to take remote work seriously. some were ready, and others were not. we know the gsa was the federal government's biggest adopter of telework and that that made it well equipped to continue its work during the pandemic. but many agencies failed to invest in i.t. and deferred digitizing. and now they're calling back employees, putting the health and safety of these workers in danger because their leaders had failed to prioritize i.t. the irs asked staff to return to perform tasks that could be digitized, automated, or performed remotely, like answering phones or processing mail. mr. o'keefe, your company conducted interviews with many of the cios on their experience in modernizing i.t. and transitioning to telework in the pandemic.
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what were some of the lessons learned and best practices that emerged from this study? >> so, the cios across the board lauded telework. i think it's going to be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle on telework, and i think, as mr. cornelius mentioned earlier, the idea of practicing telework before the pandemic struck those agencies that had practiced and had systems in place were a lot more successful. and those that went forward in terms of cloud computing also found their ability to telework and to be more agile, to be more customer-centric significantly enhanced. >> thank you. we also have feds who work with technology out in the field. there are those who inspect mine safety, who inspect poultry, who audit agency operations. and these employees rely on tech as well. mr. bitko, when you were at the cia, you had to manage a lot of agents out in the field.
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how would you make sure today that your workforce could continue operations during a global pandemic? >> thank you for the question, congressman. there's no doubt that ctelework is essential to enabling that. it really comes back to, again, point that mr. cornelius was making, the agency needs to be planning for this sort of environment and building technology that enables it, that enables, in the case of the fbi agents who are sitting out there in the field, to do their work. and one of our goals was to go even beyond that, not just in field offices, because they all have good connections, of course, but agents, their livelihood is out in the world talking to people. >> yeah. >> and the more technology we can give them to actually be effective while they're doing that, the more effective they can be. so, i think it's the agency cultural change to that mind-set of using technology. >> ms. shank, how can the federal government do a better job ensuring continuity of operations during moments of national crisis that require a rapid response?
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>> what we will potentially see again is what happens after decades of neglect and what that looks like to us is that the technology is outdated. but if you dig into why the technology is outdated, what you come up with is that the federal government is short on internal technology teams and long on massive vendor contracts, which is not to say that building an internal agency team means an end to vendor contracts, but an internal agency team is certainly something that would be a lot more flexible and able to build a modern tech stack. >> thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. i yield back. >> thank you so much, mr. ras n mr. raskin. mr. norman, you're recognized for five minutes. >> mr. cornelius, you mentioned in your opening statement technical debt. and you said it leads to was
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wasteful spending and outdated i.t. can you define exactly what that is? >> i think the easiest definition is technical debt is the continuance of old and outdated technology inside agencies or that agencies are reliant upon that is not modern and sort of updated to commercial best practices. so agencies being reliant on old processes and old software or old systems to do things where modern, commercial sort of analogous practices and capabilities are already available and are already widely adopted by citizens and companies. >> could be a generational thing, too, couldn't it? >> i do think that a lot of the old technology -- again, there's -- something i always bring up is everything is abnormal until it's normal. and i think covid is sort of a tremendous example. no one would be in here wearing masks and sitting this far apart
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under a normal hearing, and i think that's the same thing for other agencies. to the chairman's point, there's going to be so many agencies and people within agencies that are going to realize that they could have already done so much more and were so capable already because of the response that they've done due to distributed telework and the cares act and everything else. so, again, it's not just generational, but it's also sort of habitual. it's people are comfortable with what they're comfortable with and they'll use old, clunky systems if that's all they know how to do, rather than try to pick up and leverage the newest sort of wiz-bang technology. >> would my friend yield for just a second? i'll give him -- >> yes, sir. >> because i think you're making a really good point. it's also the cost. >> yeah. >> the cost of retiring a legacy system can be in the billions of dollars and take multiple years, and you've got to retrain everybody. and it's just easier sometimes to decide, let's put that off this year. and that keeps on going. and i think that's a real factor in management's decision to
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defer these kinds of things. and suddenly, they'll wake up and realize they're 30 years late. thank you for yielding. >> yes, sir, mr. chairman. and i agree, because you know, i don't know how you get that, particularly with the older generation, how you get that sunk into the heads that this pays off, it's keeping up with the times, and if you don't do that, then you're jeopardizing the whole system. mr. cornelius, this is for you, too. the gao found that many of the federal i.t. investments have suffered from a lack of effective project management. in the private sector, you can take care of that. if you get ineffective project management, you deal with it. either you make it effective or you get rid of that person or groups so that it's effective. what's your opinion on the best way to tackle this and to get
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the problem solved? and define from where you sit, what's your opinion of that statement is. >> thank you, congressman. so, i think it's a multifaceted we are answer and i won't try to talk too long because i know you probably have a couple questions. it's a couple things. first, the workforce needs to be well trained and well equipped to know how to manage effectively. project management, just like i.t., like hr, acquisition, they're not just the other person's job that you work with that are in an office. they're how you go about managing your day-to-day and how you go about executing your mission. a lot of -- another thing i found when i was in government is a lot of the project management, as i think you defined it in the private sector, is outsourced to a lot of these vendors who will come in and say that, you know, i will build you whatever you want built and then i will manage it however long you want me to manage it and update it, and all you have to do is just make sure we are hitting some milestones or metrics you put out there. and that is certainly a way of doing business, but i don't
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think that is the most effective -- i don't think anyone in the private sector would do it that way, and i think miz scank referenced the fact that folks at the digital service and others come in with that mind-set and provide some good examples and opportunities for agencies to change. they're not there to change it for them, but they're there to show them there's a different way to leverage new technology and be more effective and manage projects to get loacher costs and better outcomes. and i think to the extent we can continue proliferate and help all of the federal workforce understand that and be trained effectively would lead to a lot better outcomes in both the use and management of technology. >> and the bottom line is results. you get results. >> yep. >> and it dovetails in with the technical debt you were talking about. >> absolutely. like i said when mr. grothman was asking his questions, we have to treat the american taxpayers like customers, because that's what they are. they were reliant on government benefits and services, but they should also be treated as recipients and as people that agencies are there to serve and
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agencies aren't there to just sort of manage their own operations as they see fit. >> thank you. i'm out of time. i yield back. >> thank you. thank you, mr. norman. the gentleman from california, mr. comer, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your continued leadership. i have a bill, hr-5901, which met lira hemmed us with and the senator of portland to codify the centers of excellence at gsa. we've heard from testimony that they'll provide services to agencies to improve federal i.t. across the executive branch. mr. cornelius, what role do you see these centers of excellence playing in help speeding up i.t. modernization throughout the federal government. >> thank you, congressman, and thank you for the call-out to mr. lira. i had a great time working with him at the office of management and budget and he was at the white house. i think to the extent that we
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can make it open and able for new ideas and new technical talent to come into the government to help either individual agencies internally or agencies sort of across the enterprise buy and use commercial technology to achieve mission outcomes, i think that should be celebrated. i think there have been conversations in congress over the years on whether to codify things like the u.s. digital service or 18f or now the coes. and while i think those are steps in a direction, i also think it's a little bit like having your cake before eating your broccoli with your meal. i think you need to focus on getting the entire workforce up to speed and elevating the skills of all the people that are going to be around and are constantly managing these programs. and then we can think about the best way to sort of collect and manage and oversee and appropriate any of these digital services teams or other new
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types of business models inside government to drive better outcomes. >> thank you. whatever panelists want to speak about that or about the oversight role that congress should play on centers of excellence? >> congressman, if i could add in an additional point to that. i think that one of the big challenges with centers of excellence or centralized services being provided are the fisma challenges around reciprocity between different agencies. and if an agency, if one agency delivers a service or a center of excellence delivers a service, as long as fisma is making it the responsibility of another agency's cio or senior leadership to accept risks, they're unlikely to feel comfortable just accepting the work of the center of excellence. they're going to end up redoing a lot of it themselves. so, i think that is significant friction in the system for the idea of centralized services being provided. and that is something that needs to be looked at. >> what would you recommend as a
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solution to that? >> i think fisma has to be really modernized. i know that's been touched on here a little bit. fisma is important, no doubt. information security is essential to all of the work being done. but like we're talking about d modernizing legacy systems, security practices need to be modernized as well. and today there's a lot that's done in the individual agency interpretations and the individual cios get to make decisions about what levels they'll accept and how they'll do it. i think there has to be rethinking about how to do that, and to provide for some consistency in interpretation of the nis standards and fisma across the board. otherwise, again, we're going to still have these conflicts. >> do you or any of the panelists have a view of how are federal agencies when it comes to technology, proficiency, technology use, compared to the rest of the world? are we one of the world's leaders? are we lagging? >> if i might to go back to the
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question about coes, one point that i would make -- one point i would raise is, it's inconsistent. so, the agencies that have been through the coe process, one would anticipate that they would do better on the fatara scorecard than the agencies that have not been through the coe process, but that does not seem to be the way that it plays out. so there's kind of a head scratch on the coes. again, how would we simplify and how would we understand how agencies are actually performing? >> well, if you have ideas on how we can strengthen it as we work through this bill, we'd obviously welcome that. >> yeah. i think on the workforce issue, i think it's in pockets, but there is definitely a requirement for training at scale in the federal government. so when we talk about the cyber call on such initiatives, we're talking about 10s, 20s, 50s. we need to be talking about 1,000s. so, how do we create scale for i.t. workforce training in the federal government? that's really the big question.
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>> very good point. let me ask one final question. i had passed last congress the idea act. the president had signed it, 21st century integrated digital experience act. how would rebenefit from agencies fully implementing the i.d.e.a. act? and do we have any sense of whether it's working or not? >> may i, congressman? >> please. >> so, first off, thank you for your leadership on the i.d.e.a. act. it's an incredibly important piece of legislation and it goes back to questions we've had from majority and the minority on sort of how we make digital services, information, websites more accessible, usable, and easier to understand for the public. and i think ms. schank's opening statement, when she told that very heart-wrenching story of the lady who could not actually apply for benefits, it's case in point for why the i.d.e.a. act
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is important and i would hope that my former colleagues hurry up and get the i.d.e.a. guidance out there. a lot of colleagues are waiting on the office of management and budget to push them in the right direction and point them where they should go, and i think that bill gave a lot of deference when it came to guidance on the i.d.e.a. act. but i would say at least from an industry perspective, no company that is worth its salt would be up and running if it was not able to easily and effectively convey what its mission is and what its services are to potential customers. and so, i think, i agree with you that we should continue leveraging the i.d.e.a. act. and frankly, i think that's one of the recommendations that my organization has made to congressman connolly and his staff on sort of modernization of the fitara scorecard. >> thank you. and thank you, mr. khanna. we will continue working with you on the modernization. it's not set in stone. we just want to make sure we get
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the basics right before we start branching out. gentleman from kentucky, mr mr. comer is recognized for five minutes. and congratulations on your selection as our new full committee ranking member. we welcome you. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. look forward to working with you in the future. mr. cornelius, the modernizing government technology act and associated technology modernization fund have been important steps forward, but the task of modernizing federal i.t. systems is truly massive. it's my understanding that these take a very long time, are extremely complicated, and certainly, cost a lot of money. they're similar to infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. should we look at them in a similar manner, as infrastructure projects, that is, multiyear appropriations? >> absolutely. and chairman connolly actually took my compliment away from me. i was going to congratulate you on also becoming the ranking member to the full committee. >> thank you. >> but you know, i'm sure
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there's plenty of compliments to go around. absolutely is the simple answer to your question. most of the money -- so, not all costs that go into the $90 billion-plus in federal i.t. every year is the same. about 80% -- about $75, $76 billion of that is just keeping the lights on, is all the dollars keeping the system afloat and there's little there for development, modernization and enhancement. so, i think while the technology modernization fund is incredibly effective, and what has happened on fatara has been impactful when it comes to elevating the cio and giving them authority, if most of the money is appropriated to individual programs or individual offices within agencies and they come up with their own decisions, and it's just a sort of thumbs up-thumbs down from a cio, it's very hard for them to really look at things across the enterprise and look at things from a multiyear perspective. so, to the extent that we can right-size federal i.t. spending within agencies and make those
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monies, perhaps multiyear or several-year dollars, i think there's a trade agencies would make in getting more flexibility for the money and allowing congress and omb to have stronger oversight of that spending. >> so, if we're going to acquire agencies to reimburse the tmf, what's a more realistic time frame than three years? on the reimbursement. >> well, i think on the reimbursement -- so, especially as part of the $1 billion that i think mr. bitko and i have both joined a letter in supporting, i think repayment when it comes to covid-related issues, perhaps, should be looked at as sort of being done away with. if agencies are really trying to move fast to deal with covid, they have to leverage the team left to do it. pandemic if congress doesn't give more for individual agencies like in the cares act, let's think of ways for projects that are relevant to covid-19 to make that happen. but i think broadly speaking, a lot of the agencies, at least the projects that were funded during nye time at omb, most of those were already well on their way to success, well on their
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way to repayment. so, i think the model works, but we're also operating in a very different time frame and a very different environment, especially in the middle of covid. so i do think there are changes both congress should be looking at as well as omb and gsa should be looking at to improve the way that fund is leverages and the fact that it provides. >> finally, how good a job are we doing at measuring what the associated savings from these projects are? >> it's a very difficult question, congressman. >> right. >> so, not a very good job? >> i would think that -- i would think that there's a place -- if you're looking at agency legacy modernization plans -- and i think gao talked about that in their report -- it's not just the plan that's important, it's the agency budget relates that goes into that plan, it's the appropriations provided to that plan, and then it's the outcomes and then performance. so, it's not just enough to have a plan.
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you have to know if there's enough resources coming in. you have to know if the resources that congress provides meet that need. and even if not, how are you using the monies that are provided to actually get performance and outcome? so, i think that virtuous cycle between having a plan and being able to fund it, resource it, and acquire commercial technology effectively to retire old systems and move to new technologies, i think that that's something that there could be a lot of power in both savings and in performance, which i think are two sides of the same coin. >> okay. all right. would my friend yield? >> please, go ahead. >> because i'd like to just add onto that. i mean, i think there are two things here, based on my own experience of 20 years in the private sector. one is, you can't have erratic budgets, right? so, if you do get an agency head who says, i'm going to make this a priority, and then that agency head discovers in the next budget cycle, his budget's been cut 30%, all of a sudden, that priority collapses.
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secondly, though, we need agency heads to show leadership. it's not that different. it is different. but in the private sector, if the ceo says, we're going to replace our entire legacy system and you've got two years, mr. cornelius, to get it done, and if you don't, i'll find mr. comer, he'll do it, guess what happens. resources get marshalled. you know, because people follow the directive of the management. and management has to pay attention to it and make sure it is being done. so, it's not only money, it's also about management will, and leadership, if we're ever going to get some of these legacy systems retired. and thank you for yielding. and if you wanted to comment, mr. cornelius, feel free. >> both chairman connolly and ranking member comer, that is incredibly well said. it takes -- and i mentioned this i think in my written statement, my full written statement, not my remarks, which is, it actually takes a commitment from
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leadership, agile acquisition authorities, multiyear funding, strong oversight, and a commitment from the workforce to get this done. and so, i think when you have those five pillars all together and you can look at things over a long period of time, not decades, but hopefully, you know, a few years to move the ball forward, i think that's incredibly effective. and i want to commend a lot of the cios and even agency heads in this administration and in the previous administration, who really understood that technology was the fundamental underpinning of how their agency functions and how it delivers services and really made i.t. a priority. so, we have a lot of great leadership in the executive branch and in congress on that point. >> thank you. and thank you, mr. comer, for yielding. mr. lynch, i understand that you're back with us. >> hello, mr. chairman. yes, i am. >> great. you're recognized for five minutes. welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, for the 20 years i've been in congress, i can echo the
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chairman's concerns as well. we've been dealing with this issue consistently, year to year, year in and year out. if there's any one area that shows how slow our government responds to reality and technological change, it's this issue. and we're at a point where we not only need to catch up to and renovate some of the legacy systems, but even some of our systems that have been able to maintain some level of competency are being outpaced now. and i speak specifically to the blockchain network. so, there are a number of applications, i think, of blockchain that could help us enormously. i have a bill right now that was offered several months ago to
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code the biodefense stockpile on blockchain so it would be trance parent, not an open blockchain, but a closed blockchain, a private blockchain, with government and some of our state partners. but i would just offer it to any of our witnesses, do we have the ability to try to leapfrog some of these legacy systems by adopting the blockchain, you know, a blockchain-type system to replace some of the old, you know, bureaucratic, some of the outdated systems that we're using right now? >> congressman, there's no doubt that there is the capability in government to deploy sophisticated technologies. it happens across many federal
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agencies today. i think the question about whether blockchain should be used versus other technologies, it really comes into what's the specific process or problem that's trying to be solved? there are some cases where blockchain might be a really good fit. there could be other areas where that's not necessarily the right thing. i think that it's important for, as i.t. investments are made, for congress and for agencies to be careful about not being too prescriptive, right, because there will be absolutely be times where, yeah, we should use blockchains. but many of these legacy systems that we are struggling with now that exist because there was some prescriptive requirement or some regulatory requirement or an agency process that was put in place years ago and that the agency is still complying with. and so, every time we do that, that builds onto the complexity that mr. o'keeffe was talking about before. i think what i'm saying is we need to find the right balance of encouraging investment in the right technologies in the right cases without being so prescriptive that it limits other opportunities down the road. >> congressman, if i may -- >> i appreciate that.
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i was actually speaking to the idea of this, you know, a biodefense stockpile, where you do have 50 state partners. we've got a menu of items that we believe are necessary, going from, you know, pharmaceuticals to ppe, and it's -- i don't know, i think it just lends itself to that blockchain system where multiple parties would be able to have transparency of what is in the stockpile and whether the federal government and our states are actually prepared. right now, the current system is, it lacks all transparency. there's no accountability, you know. if we use the ethereum network, for example, we can have smart contracts that actually, you know, use the internet of things
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to actually order ppe as it reaches its expiration date. those type of innovations that might be helpful in the biodefense stockpile application, i agree with you wholeheartedly that you can't just simply say, okay, use the blockchain for every application and every need, but i just thought that the biodefense stockpile, because it is rather static and well-defined, that it might be one of those functions that would actually help government begin to explore some of the new technologies and actually find government applications that could be served by that technology. >> mr. lynclynch, did you want invite other members of the panel to respond? >> please.
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>> ms. schank or mr. okeeffe? >> yes, thank you. i want to reframe the conversation just a little bit, because we were talking earlier about the idea that you're tearing down a bridge and building a new bridge when you think about replacing a legacy system, and i think that's not exactly the right metaphor. and so, i just want to put in everybody's minds -- the way that technology typically is developed today is to build something small and test it, launch it, and then build on that. so, when we were talking previously about these multiyear contracts -- yes, to replace everything that a legacy system does is likely a multiyear effort, but it could be a couple of months to replace a small piece of that and another couple months to replace the next piece of that. so, i think it's very overwhelming to think about
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taking an entire legacy system offline and replacing it with blockchain. so, i think that it is a little bit easier to think about, what does this thing do and how do we make sure with the current technology we're doing that to the best of our ability? and the way that -- the technology that guides that may chan change. it likely will change. so, to echo what was just said by a previous speaker about being technology agnostic and not too prescriptive. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much! i yield back. thank you. >> thank you, mr. lynch. thank you for joining us today. chair will now recognize himself for five minutes. mr. bitko, could i follow up on something you said about fisma? let me first of all invite your organization as well as anybody else, to work with us in updating fisma. i completely agree with you.
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i think the last time we even authorized fisma or went through a reauthorization, i was a freshman, it was ten years ago. and that's an eternity in technology. so, we -- i would invite you very much to be in touch with our subcommittee in reviewing an update of fisma. i think that's a great idea. let me ask you, mr. bitko and you, mr. cornelius. and the others could comment as well. we had a hearing last week on the solarium cyber commission. and one of its recommendations was, effectively, to create a cyber czar. and while in and of itself, that may be a great idea, i am concerned that we have a -- okay, now we'll have a cto, we'll have a cio, we'll have an information security chief, we'll have a science technology adviser. and now we'll add a cyber czar.
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we're trying to, through fitara, evolve into a primus intaparus where there's one cio vested with making these investments and making them work, including making sure they're cyber secure, and i just wonder if you would have any thoughts or concerns to share with us about that kind of management structure? mr. bitko, did you want to comment first? then i'll call on mr. cornelius. >> certainly, sir. thank you for the question. in general, i think we support the idea of a cyber czar. there is, i think, a need for somebody who's providing that coordination. the mission, as i understand the cyber czar, is different from the cio, it's different from the chief information security officer, and there is a need and a role for all of those. >> can i interrupt --
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>> i think it's a question about -- >> can i interrupt you, mr mr. bitko, though? >> please. >> all right, let's stipulate that makes sense, but would you not agree that the cyber czar can't do a great deal if he's dealing with 40-year-old legacy systems? that the upgrades we're talking about have to happen to create the predicate of a cyber-secure environment. and he or she is not responsible for those investments. the cio is. >> there's no doubt that there is a close dependency between the cyber czar's piece of the mission that is about cybersecurity and the investment in legacy systems and modernization and the work that's being done at the omb/cio level and at the sisa level. those things all have to work well together. i think you're hitting on a point that, in the private sector, this is an ongoing topic of discussion as well, exactly how all these different entities should be reporting into an
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organization. the thinking on that continues to change and evolve. and you can look at some organizations today where the enterprise system, for example in many large banks, doesn't report to the cio, but reports directly to the ceo or chief operating officer, recognizing the importance of the security mission in and of itself. even though it's not a call center in the same way that other parts of the business might be, it's so important to the mission. i think that some of what i'm saying here is we need to raise the gain of the entire federal government and the knowledge of our senior leaders about these technology issues, about cybersecurity issues, across the board. i think that a way to do that is to have there be somebody who's responsible looking across all those things bu, but another wao do it is to realize the challenge and the mission is so broad here that it's more than a one-person job. absolutely, some work needs to go into figuring out how all those pieces work together or they won't be successful. >> i certainly agree with you, but when you ask us what could go wrong with that kind of
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nonhierarchal, overlapping set of responsibilities to something so important, one is somewhat concerned. it's not like it's worked well up to now. and adding one person vested with cyber has the risk, knowing the federal government, of creating a new -- with the best of intentions -- a new silo. oh, that's her responsibility, his responsibility, not mine. and that is of concern. mr. cornelius, did you want to respond to that? >> thank you, congressman. i generally echo mr. bitko's comments about the cyber czar. and as i understand the recommendation, one of the responsibilities of the cyber czar would be to help sort of coordinate and understand and oversee budgets for individual federal agencies when it comes to their own cybersecurity posture, but to also do this sort of higher-level cybersecurity coordination tras
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fbi, sissa, vic, others, and i think coordination across these agencies with what i will call kind of, offense is not the right word, but with sort of outward-facing responsibilities, versus internal agency-facing cybersecurity capabilities. i do think stronger coordination there could lead to some better outcomes. >> yeah, because we're so good at coordination with the federal government. >> mr. chairman? >> yes, mr. hice? >> quickly, i would like to say -- >> of course. >> i think there are several on our side that would share some concerns. it's certainly an issue that needs discussion. it needs to be worked through. but there are certainly, as well, some very serious concerns. we'd be happy to work with you as we go through this process. >> and as you know, mr. heiice, share your concerns. it's not that it's a bad idea in and of itself, but how will it work in the context that exists? and we want it to work. we certainly agree, all of us, that cyber is a growing concern.
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we know there are cyber attacks right now as we speak on western institutions that are trying to develop a vaccine, for example. so, we all understand that. the best question is what's the best way to do that? and i want to make it work and i know you do as well, mr. hice, so those are shared concerns. let me end, if i may, with one more question put to each of you on the panel. give us a grade for how well from an i.t. point of view the federal government has done during this pandemic and economic collapse, and who's your favorite example of either getting it right or kind of not getting it right? i'm not trying to flail everybody, but i think lessons learned are really important. and i gave some of mine. etran, sba, some of the irs failures in terms of getting out
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the direct payment checks. certainly, at the state level, the collapse of unemployment systems on an i.t. basis is very painful to watch and experience. mr. o'keeffe, would you like to start first? >> thank you, mr. chairman. we executed a program called cio crossroads where we interviewed each of the federal cios and asked them for their pandemic experience. and overall, i would give the federal cios an "a" for effort. everybody was working around the clock to try and make things happen. at the overall level, suzette kent did a fantastic job bringing the cios together. were there challenges in many of the legacy systems? yes. and what we saw was those agencies that have already made the jump to the cloud were much more effective. and agencies like sba, which had challenges, i would applaud the work of maria rote and guy kabbalah over at sba, who in the
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middle of this storm -- and there were challenges at sba -- managed to have the authority to shut down legacy systems and make hard transitions. so, i think overall, the cio called it very well. agencies had their challenges. and it reinforced their requirement to move to the cloud and also elevates the role of the cio. so we need to double down on fatara. >> thank you. ms. schank. >> i was a terrible student, so i don't want to give anyone grades, but i will say that -- >> oh, come on. we're about to have a hearing next week where we give every federal agency a grade. you want to cop out? >> i think that it's also an unfair assessment, because you know, when something isn't
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working well at a baseline level, going back to the bridge example -- if you have a bridge and it does well with everyday traffic, but then, suddenly, there is ten times the amount of traffic, it in theory should be built to sustain that, but a lot of our tech systems at the federal level are really only -- and also at the state level -- are really only keeping up with -- you know, they're barely making it through just the everyday. so -- and the pandemic are ten-fold. i will say that the irs -- after the cares act passed, there was a -- nonfilers were not able to file. and we actually at new america did work to discover that hole. and as soon as we made that public, the irs did very quickly spin up a tool for nonfilers to be able to file for the
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stimulus. so, i will give them credit for that, should it have occurred in the first place? no. i think that's -- yeah. thank you. >> well, if i could just add to your point. i mean, we're not trying to lay blame. let's take irs. irs had trouble in part because it experienced over a ten-year period a 20% cut in its budget. and it was starved of resources, including i.t. resources. so, how can one be surprised that when, all of a sudden, we are faced with a pandemic and an economic collapse of almost unprecedented proportions, irs doesn't have the capacity to respond with the elacrity we would like? that's on us for the resources we deprived it quite consiste consistently over a ten-year period. so, i'm not trying to give a grade where we're going to bring them and flog them before the public. we bear some responsibility, but we need to identify performance.
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and we can all then argue about, or debate about what contributed to that performance. mr. bitko. did you want to comment on what kind of grade you might give the federal government in terms of response to these twin crises and any candidate you want to praise or maybe highlight in terms of significant concerns or failures? >> so, i would agree with the "a" for effort comment from mr. o'keeffe. i think a lot of federal agencies put a lot of hard work in and manage to sustain operations and keep going. and that's, frankly, impressive, and probably better than i would have anticipated at the very beginning of the crisis. i think where the grade is maybe a little bit less good is in the planning that agencies would have been doing beforehand, where the coup planning was
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based on, you know, post-9/11 or even going back to the cold war era, and you need to be out of the immediate d.c. area, and some agencies have warehouses out in west virginia or out in virginia, where employees would go work. and that obviously is not a viable situation today, and that highlights that some of those planning processes need to really be rethought. and i think this is a place where agencies and cios need to do a better job of integrating that thinking, and together in understanding that technology is so fundamental to the mission that there are other, better, different solutions than having a warehouse out in the middle of nowhere where you cram 1,000 people into it with a bunch of computers. but i do think that agency's figured out how to get past that, and so, that is an impressive recovery. and i will use the opportunity to laud my former agency, who was not an agency that was deposed to telework by any means. the mind-set definitely was, you've got to be in the office to do the job. and telework is the exceptional
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and extreme circumstance. they managed to deploy technologies, leveraging the cloud, leveraging virtual desktops, leveraging modern solutions. and from what i hear from a lot of my former colleagues now, they're sitting there saying, why are we ever even going to go back into the office? we're working so effectively remotely now, which i think is a great thing. i think it puts a challenge on government agencies for long-term strategic planning, when you've had capital budgets based on big facilities at rent for space for the entire workforce. is that the right model going forward? and i think that's something that is a question congress to be asking. you know, do we need to plan for, if the agency has 50,000 employees, 50,000 desks that employees are going to come in and sit at, or can we get by with a lot less than that because we've delivered successful remote work? >> good point. and i think at some point, that's going to be a worthy study in terms of permanent, quasi-permanent changes postpandemic. and certainly, workplace changes
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are going to be considerable. and i agree with mr. o'keeffe, telework is actually going to be a permanent part of the future looking forward. whether it replaces all physical work, that's a different matter. i doubt it. but certainly, it's going to be a tool in the kit bag and far more pronounced and commonplace than it has been in the past. mr. cornelius, you get the last word on that question. >> thank you, congressman. and i will take your bait and say that, i think congress has actually done a pretty good job of dealing with the covid response. i mean, you did -- >> thank you very much. this hearing is adjourned. no. >> but in all seriousness, when this happened, you didn't go and just build new hearing rooms. you used webex, which is a commercial capability to do this. and now you're kind of doing a little bit of both. this is what the hybrid hearings are. but you know, i think that is a very salient point of how you shift from a legacy mind-set of, well, we can't meet in person, let's find different ways to meet in person to, we've got this great commercial
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technology. maybe we should use that to have hearings and build records and everything else. so -- and to the executive branch's credit, you know, i think of something like the paycheck protection program. i mean, sba was responsible for getting more money than was allotted in all direct spending in the american recovery and investment act out themselves in less time than agencies spent those recovery act dollars. so, you know, obviously, doing that is going to cause some complications, but i think sba acquitted themselves quite nicely, and i think it's because of tremendous leadership at the top of the agency with both their former and current cio investing in cloud, investing in a lot of these modern commercial capabilities. they were able to do that. and the last point i'll make -- and we've talked about this with this sort of funding and everything else -- is i think congress -- i think there's a great analogy that's happening right now in the house of representatives. it's my understanding that you all are considering the great
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american outdoors act this week. and i think it's the perfect analogy to what we've talked about with legacy i.t. i mean, agencies -- or you know, the national parks service has spent years being underfunded and could not actually go back and invest in all of the upkeep and maintenance they needed to do on parklands. and now congress has recognized it and said, all right, we're going to find a way to make sure that this is funded going forward so that you can do that. and i think -- one, i commend congress on that, and i hope the bill moves forward. and secondly, i hope congress takes that same position when it comes to legacy technology, and it will be a different challenge and it will be more complicated because it crosses all agencies and it's not just about one individual government -- one government program or one agency. but you know, i think the only way that we're going to continue to learn from covid and really take the lessons and the good and the bad that are happening right now as we sit here and embrace those challenges, or
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overcome those challenges and embrace the opportunities that covid has provided, is to ensure that there is enough funding and enough accountability and enough flexibility for agencies to buy and use commercial technology to deliver better outcomes for citizens. thank you. >> thank you. and i would just say, one of the questions that did not get asked often enough, quite frankly, in putting together the cares act, or the heroes act, for that matter, is what's the capacity of the recipient agency to be able to do this? you mentioned sba. we changed eligibility. we pumped more money into sba than at least ten years of its budget in less than ten weeks. we wanted them to expand financial institutions that could carry those portfolios. we changed, simplified the application. and we were willing to convert it under certain minimum circumstances from loan to
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grant. now, what's the capability of reprogramming your system sba, let alone, also monitor this for fraud, for, yes, you're eligible, no, you're not, for determination of amounts, on and on and on? and same thing with unemployment insurance. we changed eligibility. we extended the time period. we added $600 a week. that all had to be reprogrammed in 50 individual systems. and then we broadened the eligibility to gig workers, sole proprietors, self-employed. and, of course, again, the volume was enormous. so you know, we had 47 million people file for unemployment insurance in this time period. and what we found was individual i.t. systems in the states was
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simply not capable of handling the volume or reprogramming the eligibility and the terms. and many of them have legacy systems that still use cobalt that go back to the late 1970s. and so, we need to pay more attention to both the federal recipients of federal money and the state recipients if we're concerned about efficacy and making sure that we're minimizing the pain out there that we're trying to address. i.t. is integral to that. it's not kind of a side show that we can get around to. so, at any rate, i thank all of my panelists. i thank my colleagues for making today possible. and mr. bitko, don't forget the invitation to talk to us about fisma. >> thank you sir. >> all right.
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without objection, all members have within five legislative days which to submit additional questions or written material for the witnesses, through the chair, and we'll forward those to the witnesses and would ask for their speedy response. and with that, this hearing is adjourned.
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tonight on "american history tv," our series on landmark cases, produced in cooperation with the national constitution center. we explore the issues, people, and places involved in some of the nation's most significant supreme court cases. we begin at 8:00 eastern with miranda v. arizona, the 1966
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case which established that police must notify subjects of their right to counsel and the right to avoid self-incrimination. then at 9:35, roe v. wade, the 1973 case which upheld the due process clause of the 14th amendment, protects a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. watch "landmark cases," tonight on c-span3 and any time at tonight on "the communicators," california democratic congressman ro khanna, who represents silicon valley, talks about how twitter's ceo, jack dorsey, and facebook's ceo, mark zuckerberg, reacted differently to president trump using their platforms to suggest there could be mail-in ballot voter fraud. >> i would have handled it differently. i think jack dorsey handled it better, but i don't think that that's the main issue. i mean, the reality is that jack dorsey's saying that donald
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trump's misleading post about voter ballots, him doing that didn't lead to less people reading a tweet. it probably led to more people reading the tweet. so, do i think that dorsey took a better approach? yes. but i think that the question for facebook is, on civil rights, is not how are they handling donald trump's tweets. it's more broad. how are they handling speech that is giving people false information about how to vote? >> congressman ro khanna, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. on tuesday, pharmaceutical officials testify on covid-19 vaccine research and development before a house, energy and commerce subcommittee. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3, online at, or listen live with the free c-span radio app.
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>> "the presidents" from public affairs, available now in paperback and e-book. presents biographies of every president, organized by their ranking, by noted historians, from best to worst. and features perspectives into the lives of our nation's executives and leadership styles. visit our website,, to learn more about each president and historian featured, and order your copy today, wherever books and e-books are sold. in their first congressional testimony since leaving the federal reserve, former chairs ben bernanke and janet yellen called on congress to take action to encourage economic recovery. they recommended the issuing of guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus, extending unemployment benefits, and providing financial support to state and local governments. they appeared before the house


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