Again, Davis pushes Treasury on TCE

Va. Republican threatens telecom contract funding, FISMA crackdown

Rep. Tom Davis

Once again, Tom Davis is getting tough with the Treasury Department.

The Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee told a packed crowd in Washington last week that if Treasury awards its controversial stand-alone telecommunications contract, he will seek to cut funding for the deal.

With Treasury still anticipating a spring award of the 10-year, $1 billion deal, Davis repeated his insistence that the agency needs to consider signing onto the Networx governmentwide telecommunications contract being created by the General Services Administration instead of creating its own system.

'We continue on our committee to pound this and working the new Networx contract,' Davis said during a luncheon sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council in Washington. 'And Treasury tries to go it alone.'

A Treasury spokeswoman said the agency is still planning on awarding the deal this spring.

Treasury first awarded the Treasury Communications Enterprise contract in December 2004 to AT&T Corp. in December 2004, but the deal was overturned after the agency disclosed a private agreement with GSA and the Office of Management and Budget to migrate to GSA's Networx contract when the Networx deal was finalized.

But shortly thereafter, Treasury reversed course and said it would move ahead with TCE, claiming that none of the GSA programs suited its needs.

Davis has opposed TCE from the start and after Treasury's inspector general earlier this year concluded that the TCE procurement process has been disorganized and poorly executed, the congressman said he would hold hearings on the matter.

While he has not scheduled any hearings, Davis said last week he will not hesitate to work with the Appropriations Committee and cut funding for TCE if Treasury proceeds.

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. '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.'

Davis' committee is likely to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate agencies' security processes and why they are struggling to meet FISMA goals, committee staff said.

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