These bills would add new responsibilities to agencies, consider relocations
A host of new bills, ranging from enhanced cybersecurity measures to agency relocations, are under consideration in Congress. If passed, these laws will have far-reaching impacts on a number of different federal actors, whether they are the Office of Management and Budget, the National Science Foundation, or third-party vendors.
Strengthen supplier cybersecurity
A bill, introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Would require government contractors to maintain vulnerability disclosure policies in light of recent cyber attacks, such as the ransomware attack on the vendor. JBS USA meat.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive in 2020 that prompted agencies to issue PDVs – which allow ethical hackers to spot security risks and report them to an organization – but contractors are not required to do so. even. This new bill, called the Improved Entrepreneur Cybersecurity Act, aims to help prevent breaches within the networks of these providers.
“There is no reason why government contractors should not also be urged to maintain vulnerability disclosure policies, given the complex network of third-party vendors that the United States relies on,” said Lieu.
Chris Painter, former State Department coordinator for computer problems under President Barack Obama, also expressed support for the legislation in a press release.
“Vulnerability discovery and responsible disclosure of the kind advocated by this bill is a fundamental part of a more secure cyber ecosystem and helps prevent malicious actors from exploiting our government and private systems,” said Painter.
Executive agencies move outside Washington
Representative Tim Ryan (R-Ohio) introduced the Federal Government Decentralization Commission Act. The bill would establish a commission within the General Services Administration to study the relocation of certain agencies outside of the Washington metropolitan area and make recommendations to Congress on its findings.
The Federal Government’s Decentralization Commission would consist of 10 members appointed by the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader and the GSA Administrator, who would chair the commission.
If the legislation is passed, the commission will have two years to submit to Congress a relocation plan, as well as an economic and workforce development study on the proposed areas. The plan will focus on resettlement in low-income communities or areas best suited to the executive agency.
“Our government is owned by all Americans, and communities across the United States should be able to benefit from the economic growth that these employment centers could bring, especially in places with economic difficulties,” said Ryan.
Cyber security grants for state and local governments
The House Homeland Security Committee introduced an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which would allow state and local governments to receive grants for cybersecurity. Representative Yvette Clarke (DN.Y.), chair of the Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity panel, introduced the bill, titled the Law on the improvement of cybersecurity of states and local communities.
Under the provisions of the bill, states and other local entities can apply for an annual $ 500 million cybersecurity grant program administered by the Department of Homeland Security. DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will further work with state and local governments to develop a guide to improving cybersecurity.
A version of this act was passed by the House in the last session of Congress, but it failed to pass through the Senate. Sponsors of the bill have said the bill is urgent in the wake of recent cybersecurity attacks.
“In the decade since I chaired the Cyber Security Subcommittee, the number of cases and the financial impact of ransomware have exploded. These attacks are more than just an inconvenience – they pose a threat to national security, ”Clarke said in a statement.
Agency budgets, expenditure made public
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs introduced a bill that would require that the budget justifications and appropriation requests of all agencies be made public. Nicknamed the Congressional Budget Transparency Act 2021, The legislation is an amendment to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, 2006, which requires disclosure of all entities receiving federal funds.
With the passage of this bill, agencies will post the rationale for their budget requests on a centralized, searchable website, in addition to the agency’s website.
“American workers around the world deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, but budget justifications are often difficult to find or completely withheld from the public,” said Senior Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Committee on Internal Security and Government Affairs.
The Office of Management and Budget will coordinate the release of each agency’s budget justifications – an effort that will cost less than $ 500,000 over the 2021-2026 period.
The OMB, however, said passage of the bill could affect direct spending by agencies that use fees and other collections to cover operating costs. The net change in spending, however, would be negligible with adjustments to the amount collected by these agencies, OMB estimated.
The National Science Foundation will receive funding, leadership
A new bill currently in the Senate, known as Endless Frontier Law, would establish a Technology and Innovation Directorate within the National Science Foundation, in addition to various programs related to economic security, research, job creation and chain resilience. supply.
With new leadership, the NSF would have its own independent funding stream for research for certain technologies like quantum computing, biotechnology, and advanced communications.
“This legislation will improve US competitiveness with China and other countries by investing in US innovation, creating regions across the country to lead the innovation economy, creating well-paying US jobs in the manufacturing and high technology, and strengthening research, development and manufacturing capabilities, ”said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), lead sponsor of the bill.
The Office of Science and Technology would be responsible for developing a strategy each year for the government to improve its national competitiveness in science, research and innovation. The Commerce Department, meanwhile, would help NSF close gaps in its supply chain and provide grants to advance technology development and implementation strategies.