WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, led a hearing today to discuss the resources that are available to help agencies modernize their outdated and costly information technology (IT) systems, as well as what Congress can do to help federal agencies replace these systems and save taxpayer dollars. The hearing follows up on Senator Hassan’s first hearing on legacy IT systems earlier this year that was focused on the costs and challenges presented by the government’s reliance on legacy IT.
To watch the Senator’s questioning during the hearing, click here.
“Critical here is, of course, ensuring that in all these efforts [to accelerate IT modernization] we are staying focused on saving taxpayer dollars,” Senator Hassan said. “This is critically important because we know that outdated technology fails to serve the American people and is insecure against sophisticated cyberattacks. It also wastes billions in taxpayer dollars every year due to poor procurement actions, improper payments, and expensive contractors needed to operate and maintain aging systems.”
During the hearing, Senator Hassan highlighted funding in the American Rescue Plan for the Technology Modernization Fund, which provides resources to help federal agencies modernize their IT systems, as well funding to help strengthen other existing programs that provide support to federal agencies to improve their digital infrastructure.
Mina Hsiang, Administrator for the U.S. Digital Service at the Office of Management and Budget, spoke about the importance of these investments in helping federal agencies respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide critical relief to Granite Staters and Americans.
These IT modernization investments helped improve efforts to get relief to people in need, including the new extended child tax credit and the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
Clare Martorana, Federal Chief Information Officer within the Office of Management and Budget also spoke about the importance of these American Rescue Plan investments for IT modernization efforts: “I really appreciate the congressional commitment to IT modernization through the resources made available through the American Rescue Plan. The funding provided to [the U.S. Digital Service and the Technology Modernization Fund] are an investment in both our information security and the quality of government services.”
Ms. Martorana also discussed how two-thirds of the requests for funding to the Technology Modernization Fund will help support cybersecurity upgrades in the wake of the SolarWinds breach and the technology challenges that came to light amid the pandemic.
Witnesses also discussed the importance of collaboration across federal agencies in order to update legacy IT systems, as well the options already available to help agencies update their systems.
As Chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, Senator Hassan is focused on cutting waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. In 2019, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Hassan and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to close a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program that results in big pharmaceutical companies overcharging taxpayers. The bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion over the next 10 years.
Additionally, last year’s annual defense bill included a provision based off of Senator Hassan and Senator Rand Paul’s previously introduced bill that requires the Navy to enact GAO recommendations to save billions of dollars by identifying, evaluating, and mitigating ship maintenance concerns when it acquires warships. The Senator also helped lead efforts to introduce and pass the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act to curb federal improper payments to the deceased and save taxpayer dollars. Last year, the Senator worked to pass into law the bipartisan Taxpayers Right to Know Act, which compiles a public database detailing the costs and purposes of government programs, which enables Congress to increase transparency and curb wasteful spending.