New tech bills make for busy week on the Hill

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This week was a busy one on Capitol Hill for the tech community. While the Modernizing Government Technology bill passing the House was the big IT policy news of the week, other tech bills made some headway in Congress. Here’s a quick catch-up. 

H.R. 5625, Modernizing Government Travel Act
• Introduced July 5
• Passed House Sept. 22

The bill allows for government employees to be reimbursed for trips using ridesharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, or bikeshare programs.

“With simple updates like the MGT Act, we can become more attractive as an employer, more efficient in getting people where they need to go, and save taxpayer dollars while doing so,” said Rep. Will Hurd, R-TX, in a statement.

Hurd and Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass, co-authored the bill.

[Read more: House weighs Uber-for-feds bill]

H.R. 6134, To establish a National TechCorps program, and for other purposes. 
• Introduced Sept. 22

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., would create a new “TechCorps” program for recent college graduates to work in federal IT jobs and incentivize them to join by offering federal student loan deferment for the duration of their service.

After two years of service, the worker could also have half of his or her loan debt forgiven and would be eligible for additional loan forgiveness for working another year or two in the job, according to the bill.

The Obama administration has said the federal government needs an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker also recently said federal government’s problems in hiring cybersecurity professionals are “compounded by a smaller talent pool, uncompetitive salaries, and a cumbersome hiring process.”

[Read more: Cyber commission urged to ‘think big’ on workforce]

H.R. 6118, the Financial Services Innovation Act of 2016
• Introduced Sept. 22

North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry’s bill, created in an to attempt to drum up innovative fintech within government, mandates 12 federal regulators establish Financial Services Innovation Offices in their agencies.

“The Financial Services Innovation Act represents a mindset shift in the way we address financial regulation,” McHenry said in a statement. “Rather than the command-and-control structure of the past, my bill establishes an evolved regulatory framework that encourages financial innovation, all while maintaining our regulators’ commitment to the safety of consumers and our financial markets.”

H.R. 6066, Cybersecurity Responsibility and Accountability Act of 2016
• Introduced Sept. 19
• Passed House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Sept. 21

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved a bill Wednesday introduced by Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., that would allow for an agency head to be fired, demoted or otherwise punished after a major cybersecurity incident.

The Office of Management and Budget director can recommend enforcement actions if an investigation “determines that the major cybersecurity incident occurred in part or in whole because the agency head had failed to comply sufficiently with the information security requirements, recommendations, or standards,” according to the bill.

The bill also says agency heads could be punished by being denied any pay awards or bonuses for a year.

“As a country, we must do a better job protecting Americans and their personal information from cyber attacks,” Abraham said in a statement. “This bill not only implements important reforms to strengthen our cybersecurity, but it also increases accountability so that we can hold agency heads responsible when they fail to correct security vulnerabilities identified by inspectors.”

S. 3183, BOTS Act of 2016 (similar house bill – H.R. 5104, BOTS Act)
• House bill passed floor Sept. 12
• Senate bill passed Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Sept. 21

The bill is designed to curb outrageous price inflation by penalizing those using software to buy up large numbers of event tickets that exceed seller limits.

It could affect ticket scalpers for sporting events, the theater, concerts and more by making it illegal to “knowingly circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other control or measure on an Internet website of a ticket issuer that is used by the ticket issuer to enforce event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of online ticket purchasing order rules.”

The bill would also make it illegal to resell tickets obtained in that way.

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Congress, Government IT News, Tech policy
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