The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 17 voted to approve three bills that would increase oversight of Federal government software contracts, create an artificial intelligence training program for Federal officials, and gather cybersecurity best practices for the satellite sector.

Each of the three measures will be sent to the full Senate for further consideration.

Topping the list of bills approved by the committee is the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets (SAMOSA) Act introduced by Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in March.

The bill would require Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration to conduct an independent, comprehensive assessment of their software licensing practices in order to increase Federal oversight of software contracts, streamline operations, and reduce wasteful spending.

“Improving how the government manages something as simple as the software they buy can help save taxpayers in the long run,” Sen. Peters said when he introduced the bill.

The committee also voted to approve the AI Leadership Training Act, which would create an artificial intelligence training program for Federal government supervisors and management officials. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Peters and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.

The training program “would help improve the federal workforce’s understanding of AI applications, and ensure that leaders who oversee the use of these tools understand AI’s potential benefits and risks,” the committee said.

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to make the federal government more efficient, but only if government leadership is properly trained to ensure this technology benefits the American people,” Sen. Peters said.

Finally, the committee voted to approve the Satellite Cybersecurity Act introduced earlier this month by Sens. Peters and John Cornyn, R-Texas. The bill would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help commercial satellite companies and owners to better defend themselves against cyberthreats across the globe.

“We’ve already seen the impacts of attacks on satellite systems by our adversaries abroad, and the potential effects on our lives and livelihoods could be catastrophic if American systems were similarly attacked,” said Sen. Peters earlier this month. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that commercial satellite owners and operators have the tools and resources they need to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses.”

The legislation would require CISA to consolidate voluntary satellite cybersecurity recommendations geared toward satellite owners and operators, and to develop public online resources to make those available. The bill would also direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study how the government supports satellite sector cybersecurity currently.

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