The House Oversight IT Subcommittee is Dead

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-11th, gestures during an election party in Falls Church, Va., in 2016.

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-11th, gestures during an election party in Falls Church, Va., in 2016. Steve Helber/AP

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The panel’s responsibilities—which include oversight of FITARA and other federal tech initiatives—will be swept up by the Government Operations subcommittee.

The House Oversight Committee’s IT subpanel is being absorbed into the Government Operations subcommittee, according to its prospective chairman.

In a Government Matters segment on Tuesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said the group will take over the IT subcommittee’s responsibilities, which include monitoring federal cybersecurity, IT modernization and other tech-related issues. A spokesperson for House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., confirmed the change to Nextgov.

“We spend almost $90 billion a year on federal IT procurement, and that demands oversight and accountability,” Connolly said in a statement to Nextgov. “Marrying the two subcommittees was done in recognition of the fact that so much of the federal government’s operations are reliant upon information technology. Whether it is the FITARA scorecard or FedRAMP reform, our subcommittee will continue to drive modernization in the federal government.”

Connolly is widely expected to take over the Government Operations panel, though leaders have yet to officially announce the appointment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday recommended 15 Democrats to serve the broader Oversight Committee.

Some Congress-watchers initially expected ranking member Robin Kelly, D-Ill., to take over the IT panel, but those prospects dwindled after she won a spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Kelly was granted a waiver to keep her seat on House Oversight but waived members rarely assume leadership roles.

Former IT subcommittee Chairman Will Hurd, R-Texas, won a seat last week on the coveted House Appropriations Committee. His office did not respond to questions about whether he would remain on the House Oversight committee.

Connolly was an original cosponsor of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, FITARA and other federal tech legislation that fell within the IT subcommittee’s jurisdiction. As oversight of those measures shift to his panel, he can up the pressure on agencies to fall in line.

During the segment, he said he plans to push for broader cloud adoption and double down on the current framework of the FITARA scorecard. In recent months, lawmakers and White House officials have considered revamping the scorecard’s assessment for data center optimization and cyber hygiene, but Connolly characterized such changes as “squishy.”

“I wanted to keep our foot to the pedal in terms of implementation of FITARA because we’re hardly there yet,” he said. “I don’t want to see substantial changes to the scorecard, but I’m always open to fixes and some tweaks that make sense. I don’t want to see the dilution of FITARA, and there have been some steps back [proposed] by [the Office of Management and Budget] that are troubling and we need to resist."