Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor in favor of H.R. 2227, the Modernizing Government Technology Act, sponsored by Representative Will Hurd (TX-23).
Full remarks are below, or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, there are some things we get used to hearing, but when you think about it, it’s amazing just how much things have changed. You know, I hear a friend say that all the photos he took on his phone automatically updated to his cloud. Not surprising there. But how long ago was it that we couldn’t even take pictures on our phones, much less have them saved automatically on a cloud?
“Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to cash your checks online, manage your accounts on Mint, pay individuals back online. Many millenials don’t even carry cash anymore. That’s a revolution in money management that just happened in a matter of years.
“So why, Mr. Speaker, why in the world would the Department of Defense use a 54-year-old system as a backup to send and receive emergency messages for our nuclear forces—a 54-year-old system that relies on floppy disks? Why would the master file of the public’s taxes at the IRS run on a 1950s code? Eighty percent of the $80 billion we spend each year on IT is used to maintain legacy systems, to buy expensive parts that nobody uses anymore for 54-year-old systems we shouldn’t even have.
“We’d expect more from the private sector. We’d expect mobile cameras, cloud computing, online banking. Heck, we’d even expect to upgrade our phones and apps and technology on a rolling basis every single week. Well why should we expect less from the federal government?
“And I would say, this is about more than expectations. We all saw what happened over the weekend with the massive, global cyberattack. Hospitals shut down, transportation systems. This is a government service issue. It is a government waste issue. It is a national security issue. Now, government may never be like Silicon Valley, but it should not be stuck in the age of Mad Men. That’s not only costly, it’s dangerous.
“Will Hurd, an individual that has served his nation in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, an individual who worked in the private sector when it came to technology, an individual who serves in this body, and I will say this based upon everybody else I’ve served with, probably has the most bipartisan approach to anyone I’ve ever seen serve in that position.
“He doesn’t care about party, it’s just the same as when he worked in the CIA. He cares about his country. He has seen the most deadly things happen, and through his technology company, he’s seen the people fight wars in new ways.
“So he took it upon himself. It’s not the issue that people would campaign upon, but it’s an issue that he saw needed a solution. He worked with both sides of the isle and he said why can’t we modernize our own technology.
“You know, the Veterans Administration was created in 1921. And if somebody that was a veteran that had a problem and a claim they would write it on a piece of paper. In 1921 on a warm day like today, we’d have fans going to try to cool ourselves down. We’d rush after we got done voting to turn on our radios to see what the news was saying. Well, the world all changed. We can look at our phones and get the news instantaneously. We got central air to cool ourselves down. And if you have a claim with the VA, lots of times they write it on a piece of paper.
“Well you know what? That’s all going to stop today. That’s going to stop because we’re going to make a smart investment. We’re going to make the federal government have the same accountability that we expect in business or anywhere else. And you know what will happen? Government will become more effective, more efficient, and more accountable, and more transparent. So I want to tip my hat to both sides of the aisle, and especially to Congressman Will Hurd.
“He took the leadership, the tenaciousness to stay with it, and the ability to work with all. On really the issue that people wouldn’t talk about, but expect to happen. And he was the right person at the right time to make it push through. That’s why I support this bill and I yield