Davis keeps eye on Treasury TCE deal, adds incentives to bolster FISMA

Congressional appropriators are going to play a big role in furthering Rep Tom Davis's (R-Va.) IT agenda.

Davis, at a speech yesterday sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council in Washington, said he will work with the House Appropriations Committee to both cut funding for the Treasury Department's controversial standalone Treasury Communications Enterprise solicitation and improve the government's information security law.

Treasury is expected to award the $1 billion, 10-year TCE this spring, despite immense pressure from Congress and the agency's own inspector general, who earlier this year said the procurement has been disorganized and poorly executed.

Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, repeated his desire for Treasury to consider using the General Services Administration's Networx governmentwide acquisition contract, which has not been awarded yet.

Noting the IG's comments and recent reports on the Gulf Coast hurricanes that stressed the importance of interoperable communications, Davis said Treasury has continued "trying to go it alone."

If Treasury does not change its course, "I guess we'll have to stop it in the appropriations process," Davis said. "What we've tried to do here is say, 'Work together, and let's build this across government.' "

Treasury had no comment on Davis' remarks, a department spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, Davis said he is also interested in revamping the Federal Information Security Management Act, because too many agencies are treating it as a paper-pushing exercise rather than as a means to significantly bolster IT security.

Security managers have so much coming at them, he said, that FISMA requirements have morphed into a "check-the-box" mentality. As a result, agency performance has remained unsatisfactory in recent FISMA compliance reports. "One of these days there will be a digital Pearl Harbor," he said.

Davis said he has met with Appropriations Committee staff about adding penalties to give the law more weight. "I don't think that because you have a failing grade you change the exam, but we are open to ways to retool this," he said after his speech. "We've been talking to [appropriations staff] about rewards and incentives on that."

Rob Thormeyer is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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