Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., wrote letters to 10 Federal agencies in an effort to seek answers as to what those agencies are doing to modernize IT systems before the next crisis, like COVID-19, occurs.

The agencies to receive letters from Sen. Hassan include the Office of Personnel Management, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, and Departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, Interior, Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.

“The public health emergency caused by COVID-19 underscores the need for federal agencies to invest in modernizing current IT systems that cannot meet mission expectations in a crisis,” Sen. Hassan wrote. “Failing to do so could result in costly errors, security vulnerabilities, and inability to serve the American people.”

The senator asked six questions of the agencies including:

  1. Does the agency have a comprehensive IT modernization plan?
  2. What are the agencies top five modernization priorities?
  3. What is the status of the modernization of the legacy system that the Government Accountability Office identified for each agency and is outlined in each letter?
  4. To describe the agencies office efforts to phase out legacy systems that are physically outdated and don’t support current software capabilities, are no longer supported by the vendor or manufacturer, or require specialized employees or contractors to operate and maintain.
  5. Describe how the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer are coordinating on IT acquisitions.
  6. How can Congress better facilitate modernization efforts of Federal IT systems to achieve greater system reliability, security, and fiscal efficiency?

“Legacy IT systems, as you know, are outdated systems that are no longer supported by the vendor, require highly specialized personnel to maintain, and often do not support current software or current agency needs,” Sen. Hassan wrote. She added that “the rising costs of maintaining legacy systems also crowds out investments in newer systems that would better serve the American people.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.