Congress must focus on updating agencies’ aging technology if it wants to make the government work better, said Minority House Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D.-Md.
In a speech delivered Monday, Hoyer outlined four areas in need of government reform — one of which was government technology. His speech, focusing on technology-related legislation he and others have recently introduced, comes at a time when Congress is trying for a major legislative push ahead of a a long recess.
“Americans are now accustomed to accessing information, products, and services quickly and reliably online from private companies,” Hoyer said in his remarks. “But when it comes to government, nobody expects the same quality, speed, or responsiveness. That needs to change.”
To address this problem, Hoyer touted the Information Technology Modernization Act, a bill he introduced this year with the support of U.S. CIO Tony Scott that would create a fund to help agencies update their IT.
“We need to make sure that federal departments and agencies are as connected and adaptive as possible,” Hoyer said. “And we need to make certain they are protected against cyber threats. Americans won’t trust government to help if they don’t trust its systems to protect their private data.”
The $3-billion, one-time investment fund could finance $12 billion in projects on a revolving basis during the first 10 years, Hoyer said.
“Imagine how much more efficient and effective our government would be if government technology systems made use of the same best practices as the private sector,” Hoyer said.
Relating to technology reform, Hoyer also referenced legislation Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., introduced in May that would authorize the U.S. Digital Service for 10 years.
Lastly, Hoyer mentioned several initiatives that aim to improve technology for the legislative branch, including hackathons and an app called “Whip Watch” that provides updates on House floor action.
“If we can make government as responsive to citizens as our best online businesses are to their consumers, we can renew the faith our people once had that government is here to help them improve their lives,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer also outlined proposals around three other issues in his speech: campaign finance, voting rights and redistricting.