Connolly Talks FedRAMP, FITARA on FEDtalk

There’s a lot of work left to be done to better enable agencies to modernize their IT needs, according to Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11-VA), the Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Operations. Connolly has introduced a new bill, the FedRAMP Reform Act of 2018, aimed at alleviating the issue.

“FedRAMP was a program designed to expedite the certification for companies wanting to do business with the federal government, providing cloud computing services,” Connolly said in an interview on FedTalk on Federal News Radio. “And it was supposed to be maybe a six-month process and the cost would be somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars. Unfortunately, like a lot of government programs, it got weighed down, and instead of being an expeditious process, it became a long, costly, and onerous process, costing some companies as much as $4 or $5 million and taking two or three years.”

Connolly told host Debra Roth he hoped to “codify” FedRAMP, but also expand it, ultimately putting language in statute. “We want the presumption of approval to operate if you get that gold stamp.”

Connolly said he is looking at another piece of legislation he helped to craft, the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (or FITARA), as a possible model for FedRAMP, pointing to FITARA’s successful record, since passage.

“We’re going to have our seventh series of hearings (on FITARA) this fall. So that sends the word out to federal agencies that we didn’t just pass a bill and now, are going to move on and ignore it,” Connolly said. “We’re going to insist on its implementation and we’re going to monitor it, and we’ve got broad, bipartisan support for that effort.”

According to Connolly, FITARA, which results in an annual scorecard providing a grade for each agency on how well they are implementing IT acquisition law, is increasingly important, six years after its passage, pointing out that the problems identified under the Obama administration that prompted FITARA ultimately proved to be even worse, upon closer inspection.

“At that point, he identified about 1,600 datacenters throughout the federal government, and he wanted to cut that in half,” Connolly said of Obama’s chief data officer. “But what we discovered was, we didn’t have 1,600 datacenters, we had over 12,000, and until we decided on the scorecard, no progress was made.”

Connolly said the national security aspect of the legislation is often underlooked.

“Unfortunately, the worst performing agency, consistently, is the Pentagon. They just insist on going their own way, they don’t have their act together, and you ask yourself, ‘what could go wrong?,’ because there is absolutely a national security aspect to that.”

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