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ICYMI: Senators Hassan and Romney Lead Hearing on Need to Modernize Outdated Technology at DHS to Keep Americans Safe

Upgrading Technology Will Help DHS Better Respond to Emerging Threats

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, led a Senate hearing focused on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) reliance on outdated and obsolete technology.

The hearing was part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to modernize legacy IT systems.

Read some of the coverage highlights below:

Bloomberg Government: DHS Asked to Replace Aging Technology to Plug Security Risks

By Patty Nieberg

The Department of Homeland Security needs to replace aging technology systems to prevent security breaches, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said at a hearing Wednesday.

The hearing, before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, comes during an uptick in domestic concerns over cybersecurity and US adversaries’ ability to hack IT and operational systems.

A biometric identity management program that includes fingerprint matching and facial recognition still has unresolved acquisition issues, including reviewing contractor deliverables, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The schedule delay and cost overrun on a system housing personal information could put citizen’s data at risk and leave DHS and contractors open to legal issues, according to Hassan, who chairs the subcommittee.

DHS’s legacy technology systems waste taxpayer dollars, undermine security, and limit government efficiency and responsiveness, said Hassan. If one of its systems went offline, for example, it could lead to dangerous people entering the US, she added. […]

MeriTalk: DHS CIOs Chart Paths to Ditch Legacy IT Systems

By Cate Burgan

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the process of updating its Information Technology Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2024-28, with an emphasis across the agency on moving away from older legacy IT systems, the agency’s chief information officer (CIO) said today.

The updated plan will set IT goals and strategies for fulfilling the mission of DHS over the course of the next four years – including legacy modernization plans. The current strategy is set to expire on Sept. 30, DHS CIO Eric Hysen said during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Emerging Threats and Spending Subcommittee hearing today.

[…] “The failure of any of these systems would have significant impact on public safety and national security,” subcommittee Chairwoman Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said during the hearing. “That’s why it is crucial that DHS modernize these systems.” […]

Politico Pro: Morning Cybersecurity: DHS can’t quit aging tech

By John Sakellariadis

[…] A LEGACY WITH LEGACY TECH — When the chief information officers of DHS, FEMA and TSA take the stand this morning before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and spending oversight, they’ll be carrying with them the type of legacy one doesn’t generally boast about.

The Department of Homeland Security has a problem with using really old tech for really important work.

And Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), chair of the subcommittee, has no plans to shy away from those issues during today’s hearing, according to an excerpt from her opening statement, shared in advance with MC.

“As our subcommittee continues to encourage agencies to adopt modern solutions … we will hear today from senior DHS officials about how its outdated technology negatively impacts the department’s budget and our nation’s safety,” she will say.

The deets — Since April 2019, DHS and its sundry components have claimed the spotlight in three Government Accountability Office reports warning that it’s moving too slowly to modernize aging tech that powers critical functions, like a multi-billion dollar biometric identity program and a system for allocating grants in the aftermath of disasters. The Department’s Office of Inspector General also raised alarm bells when it looked into similar issues in 2020.

Why it matters — Legacy IT — or software or hardware that is no longer supported by developers — is costlier to maintain, more vulnerable to security bugs and less efficient than up-to-date systems.

And despite a concerted push to migrate onto more nimble and secure tech, DHS has struggled to dust off those cobwebs for the last several years — a trend that’s putting the country’s security at risk, Hassan plans to argue.

“If an aging system that DHS uses to vet passengers or visitors traveling into or through the United States goes offline, there’s a chance a dangerous person could enter the country,” she will say. […]

WCAX: Sen. Hassan to lead DHS technology hearing

New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan is leading a call for upgrading technology at the Department of Homeland Security.

The Democrat chairs the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, which is focused on changing DHS’ reliance on outdated and obsolete technology to reduce government waste and help the federal government respond to emerging threats.

Hassan and ranking member Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, are holding a hearing Wednesday on “Securing the Nation: Modernizing DHS’s Mission-Critical Legacy IT Systems.” They say the department that secures the nation’s land, sea, and air borders had outdated technology. […]