Hurd says new Appropriations role ‘widens focus’ on federal IT

Will Hurd (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee / Flickr)

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Will Hurd’s departure from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and its now-dissolved IT Subcommittee won’t hurt oversight of federal IT — it “widens focus” on it, he said Thursday.

Hurd, R-Texas, detailed his new role on the House Appropriations Committee and how he will continue to ask agency officials questions about IT management, like their adherence to the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act and the Modernizing Government Technology Act.

“I’m still talking FITARA,” Hurd said at the IBM ThinkGov conference. “Now agency heads and CFOs come in front of Appropriations, and my first question is ‘What is your FITARA score?'” Hurd actually did this last week, asking new Department of Veterans Affairs CIO James Gfrerer about the IT law during a hearing otherwise focused on the department’s electronic health record modernization.

While the House Appropriations Committee won’t have as many purely IT-focused hearings as Oversight and Reform did during Hurd’s membership, he’s now closer to the purse on his new committee, meaning senior officials are more likely to pay attention to his questions on IT.

“We are able to now make sure that the agency heads and deputy agency head are focusing on these issues. I’ve been asking every senior official, ‘Where are you in creating and MGT working capital fund?'” Hurd said.  “I know that [Rep.] Gerry Connolly and OGR are going to continue to have those quarterly hearings, and I’m going to continue to be pressing this when it comes to Appropriations and start looking at how money is tied to that. So I think it just widens our focus.”

This applies to his service on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as well, he said.

“A lot of times the intelligence community and [Department of Defense] wants to be carved out of things that Congress passes,” Hurd said. “Well, I still get to bring all them in front of [the committee] and ask the questions we should: ‘Are you modernizing your digital infrastructure, how are you thinking about artificial intelligence as a tool?’… These are the types of things I’ll still be continuing to ask through Appropriations and [the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence].”

Another area Hurd hopes to reform on through his work on the intelligence committee is security clearances. “Why the hell does it take 10 months?” he asked, admitting that’s on the quick side.

“Really, do you think my neighbor, the person who lived next to me 10 years ago, has a better insight into who I am than all the stuff I’ve ever clicked on?” he said. “So why are we doing security clearances the same way that we have for the last 100 years?”

Hurd thinks it should be done in “one week.”

DOD is looking into ways to shorten the timeframe. It’s in the midst of reorganizing the which agencies are in charge of the process. Also, the Defense Digital Service team issued a request for white papers earlier this week in search of a solution that would automate the majority of the security clearance process.

Wyatt Kash contributed to this report.

-In this Story-

artificial intelligence (AI), Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), House Appropriations Committee, House Oversight and Reform Committee, MGT Act, Will Hurd
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