Congress started a five-week recess Aug. 1 and left several IT bills on the table. Here are the five major IT initiatives lawmakers failed to act upon before skipping town.
The Federal Information Technology Acquisition and Reform Act
Status: Passed House, Passed Senate Committee, Awaiting Action on Senate Floor
The first rumblings of what became FITARA appeared in a report released by the Government Accountability Office in February 2012 that identified a potential $1.2 billion federal dollars spent on duplicative IT programs. In response, House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., circulated a draft bill of FITARA.
Before the bill was formally introduced, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., cosponsored it. Since its introduction, the bill has passed the House three times, but in slightly different forms.
Most recently, the second version of the bill moved on to the Senate, where it passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The bill, if passed, would consolidate the position of CIO across federal agencies, allowing one person to hold the title per agency. In addition, the bill gives more power to the individual with that power.
Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act
Status: Passed House, Awaiting Referral in Senate
Passed originally in 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act barred any tax on Internet services except if a state already had one at the time of the act’s signing. Since its passage, the act was renewed three times. The current renewal is set to expire on November 1, 2014.
The November 1 deadline is particularly pressing given that Congress will return to session on September 8, allowing less than two months for the original act to either be extended or for the permanent moratorium to be passed.
Differing from the 1998 bill, PITFA would revoke the state-based Internet access taxes in seven states that had them in place before the original ITFA passed. The bill passed through committee in June and then the full House a few weeks later.
The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014
Status: Passed Senate Committee, Awaiting action on Senate Floor
Enacted in 2002, the original Federal Information Security Modernization Act required agencies to create a set of standards to handle information security. The act required a set of qualifications that the standards must meet.
In the 2014 update, the original bill is not rewritten, but some reporting requirements are removed from the original plan. In addition, some requirements about how OMB governs the bill will be adjusted.
The bill passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and a similar version of the bill passed the House a year prior.
Various cybersecurity bills
A number of cybersecurity bills were also left without much action before recess. The National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2014, which codifies cybersecurity regulations, primarily in the Department of Homeland Security, passed the House last week and has been referred to committee in the Senate.
Also dealing with DHS, the Cybersecurity Boots on the Ground Act also passed the House last week and was also referred to committee in the Senate.
In addition to the 2014 cybersecurity bills in progress, several bills remain leftover from the 2013 legislative calendar, some of which were introduced in the 112th Congress. A few other bills, including one introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., made appearances last week before Congress left town.
USA FREEDOM Act
Status: Passed House, Referred to Senate Committee
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency, members of both houses of Congress spoke about legislation necessary to address the agency’s activities.
The USA FREEDOM Act was introduced in both houses in late 2013 and was designed to end the bulk data collection on Americans. Since its introduction, it has passed the House and been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill, after being amended in May 2014, would also extend the controversial Patriot Act and amend it to ensure any data collected from citizens is absolutely essential.