House Oversight Forwards Bills to Improve Gov Websites, Formalize CIO and CISO Roles

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. Susan Walsh/AP

The 21st Century Idea Act would mandate dot-gov improvements including allowing e-signatures for citizen services.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee forwarded two bills Thursday aimed at upgrading and securing federal technology.

The first bill, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience, or 21st Century IDEA, Act, would require federal agencies to shutter or consolidate outdated or duplicative websites and ensure they’re accessible to people with disabilities.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., also requires that sites can be reached securely, presumably with HTTPS encryption.

Most of those measures have already been mandated through government policy, but their implementation is spotty across the government’s web presence and they aren’t codified in legislation.

The bill mandates the improvements for new websites and orders agencies to create a plan for implementing them on existing sites.  

It also requires agencies to offer digital versions of all paper-based citizen services whenever possible and to accept electronic signatures from citizens.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday advanced similar legislation introduced by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. 

The second Federal CIO Authorization Act would formally create federal chief information officer and chief information security officer positions and make both of them presidential appointees.

Both positions currently exist with those names inside the Office of Management and Budget, but the CIO’s office is formally known as the Office of E-Government and Information Technology and the CISO position isn’t required by legislation.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Robin Kelly, D-Ill., establishes the federal CIO as the top civilian tech official, and directs the CIO to “submit a proposal to Congress for consolidating and streamlining IT across federal agencies.”

Suzette Kent currently serves as the federal CIO. Grant Schneider was named federal CISO in July.

The IDEA Act passed on a voice vote. The CIO Authorization Act passed by unanimous consent.