The House has scheduled consideration later this week of several pieces of legislation impacting Federal IT issues including Federal CIO authorities and agency website functionality and performance.

None of the four House bills, however, appears to have Senate companion legislation, making the outlook very slim for the measures to become law before the next session of Congress begins in January 2019.  Approval by the full House before then, however, may stand the bills in better stead for quicker consideration in the 2019-2020 period.

Up for consideration by the full House on Wednesday and Thursday are:

  • H.R. 6901, the Federal CIO Authorization Act of 2018, which is sponsored by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, chairman of the House IT subcommittee, and ranking member Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and which cleared the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in late September.

The bill would reauthorize, rename, codify, and elevate the role of the Federal CIO, a position initially created as part of the E-Government Act of 2002, and create a “clearer IT reporting structure within the Administration,” the lawmakers said.  The bill would elevate the Federal CIO role as a Presidential appointee reporting directly to the Office of Management and Budget Director, and also would codify the Federal Chief Information Security Officer as a Presidential appointment reporting to the Federal CIO. The Federal CIO would be charged with giving Congress a proposal for “consolidating and streamlining IT across federal agencies.”

  • H.R. 5759, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA Act), also approved in late September, is sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and would create a series of minimum functionality and security requirements for all Federal government agency public-facing websites and digital services. The bill also would place on the shoulders of Federal agency CIOs the responsibility to ensure funding and implementation of the new requirements.

The sponsors have said the bill would dramatically reduce agency costs for providing assistance to citizens, and improve citizens’ online interactions with the Federal government. The legislation would give Federal agencies two years to provide a “digital option” for any in-person government service, and would give agencies one year to ensure that any public-facing, paper-based form, application, or service is made available in an “intuitive and adaptable” digital form.

  • HR 6032, the SMART IoT Act, was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July.  The bill would direct the Department of Commerce to study and report to Congress within one year on the U.S. Internet-connected device industry, including on voluntary and mandatory standards that are being developed around the world for the IoT sector, which Federal agencies have jurisdiction over the sector, and any regulations or standards those agencies have put in place that impact the IoT sector.

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, sponsor of the bill, said it would be “an important first step for laying the ground work for many policy considerations” regarding IoT technologies, and that it was important “we do not create unnecessary regulatory burdens that stifle innovation.”

  • HR 2846, the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act of 2018, is sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and would direct Federal agencies to collect voluntary feedback regarding services and transactions that they provide, publish feedback annually on agency websites, report on feedback to the Office of Management and Budget, and publish aggregated reports.  Agencies that solicit voluntary feedback from users would have to ensure that responses to solicitations remain anonymous, that the voluntary nature of the solicitation is clear, and that the solicitation will contribute to improved agency service.

The bill also would direct the Government Accountability Office to make publicly available and submit to Congress a scorecard assessing the quality of services provided to the public by each Federal agency.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.