Security, procurement top Davis' agenda in spite of upcoming election

Information security and streamlining federal procurement will still be top priorities for the House Government Reform Committee, committee chairman Tom Davis said ? no matter which party controls Congress after next month's elections.

Davis, a Virginia Republican, acknowledged his own tight re-election campaign at a speech in Fairfax, Va., Thursday at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's annual Vision conference, but said that he will continue focusing on consolidating government operations and bolstering data security no matter what happens after the November mid-term elections.

Despite measures like the Federal Information Systems Management Act that are intended to help agencies prevent sensitive information breaches, "agencies continue to hemorrhage data," Davis said.

For example, Davis noted that after the committee sent letters to all agencies to take inventory of their IT assets, the results "were troubling."

"It is surprising how many people don't keep track of this stuff," he said, referring specifically to the Commerce Department, which said it lost track of about 1,100 computers ? half of which were signed out to employees but never accounted for again.

He also stated that the Army is the only agency that has not responded to his committee's request.

"These breaches illustrate how far we have to go" to protect sensitive data, he said.

To that end, he urged the Senate to act on legislation ? attached to a Veterans Affairs data security bill ? that would require agencies to quickly disclose data breaches and supply new guidelines for protecting sensitive information.

The bill passed the House shortly before the congressional election recess.

Elsewhere, Davis seemed resigned to the fact that the Treasury Department will move ahead with the massive Treasury Communications Enterprise contract, despite his consistent opposition.

Davis told reporters after his speech that he expects Treasury to award TCE instead of using the General Services Administration's Networx governmentwide telecommunications vehicle. He said he has met with Treasury secretary Henry Paulson to air his concerns, but at this point, only the Office of Management and Budget can prevent the agency from moving forward, Davis said.

Meanwhile, Davis expressed his support for GSA's recently launched reorganization, in which the agency formally merged the Federal Supply and Federal Technology services into the Federal Acquisition Service.

As the leading sponsor of legislation that approved the new structure, Davis said this will help GSA solidify itself as the government's "premier acquisition agency."

The acquisition workforce, both at GSA and throughout the government, needs all the help it can get, Davis said, and the reorganization provides contracting officials with more tools and better training.

"I think [the acquisition workforce] is the most important investment we can make right now," Davis said after his speech.

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

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