WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's hearing titled “Department of Defense Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Information Assurance Efforts.”
"Thank you Chairman Langevin. And welcome to our witnesses here today.
"Since this is our first open hearing of the 116th Congress, I would like to take a moment to congratulate my friend and colleague Jim Langevin on his Chairmanship of this important subcommittee. As many of you know, IETC has a strong bi-partisan tradition and I look forward to working again alongside Jim.
"During the last Congress, we explored how emerging technologies are changing the nature of warfare and we legislated aggressively in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, quantum sciences, and other related technologies.
"So – I am pleased that this year we are starting with an open hearing on Information Technology, cybersecurity and information assurance – all of which are of the same continuum towards enabling the military and forming the backbone of the battlefield of the future.
"I have said in the past that too often the Pentagon has treated information and communication technologies as a support tool, secondary to platforms, weapons, training and operations within the Department. But anyone who has seen our forces operate over the past 25 years understands that our military advantage comes from networked and secure systems proving Intelligence, precision-strike, information fusion, and advanced warning capabilities that our warfighters have come to rely on.
"This military advantage, however, is at risk of eroding – and some would argue has already eroded – when we consider advances that have been made most notably by Russia and China.
"All DOD missions and systems remain at risk from adversarial cyber operations. The Department continues to discover mission-critical vulnerabilities in acquisition programs, and uncover massive breaches of cleared defense contractors. Indeed, across the Department we still struggle with incorporating agile software-enabled systems that remain relevant, and keep pace with the hyperconnected, digital world of today.
"Considering this, our hearing today in a larger sense is about continuing to build the foundation for the future of warfare, where information and data are a strategic resource to be protected, preserved and fully enabled.
"IT modernization, cybersecurity and information assurances are primary prerequisites for this future, and the Department must achieve fluency in these areas as we consider evolutionary – and indeed revolutionary – leaps towards other enabling technologies such as AI, 5G, high performance computing and even quantum computing.
"Given the challenges I just mentioned, I fear that we are not on strong footing; and one need also only consider the fits and starts with the Department’s evolution to a modern Cloud computing environment. The Department’s legacy approach to Cloud computing has been fractured and uneven; and as DOD considers a more strategic and holistic strategy – one that I fully agree with – the trajectory is mired by legal disputes that all but guarantee further delays.
"These are delays we cannot afford given the rapid pace of technological advancements – as well as adversarial advancements, since China and others continue to transform their militaries, increasingly surveil their own citizens, and advance authoritarian and undemocratic objectives.
"Make no mistake: In the areas of IT reform and digital modernization, I support the vision and direction being outlined by the CIO, Mr. Dana Deasy who is with us today. Nonetheless, we continue to have tough questions regarding Cloud computing and the JEDI project that still dominates the headlines. So, I look forward to discussing today exactly how the Department’s move to commercial Cloud fits in with IT reform and digital modernization.
"Each of our witnesses plays a central role and forms an important partnership in ensuring that DOD has modern information and communications technologies, as well as the policies and standards needed to support the Department’s many missions.
"I am pleased to see that Lisa Hershman, the Acting Chief Management Officer of the Department, is with us here today. When we consider IT reform and the importance of delivering optimized enterprise-wide business management solutions for the Department, we quickly gain an appreciation of the trusted partnership that must exist between the Chief Management Officer and the CIO. I look forward to hearing about this partnership, and how both the CMO and CIO are collaborating with the Department’s new Chief Data Officer, to manage the complexities of data management, and provide a Common Enterprise for Data across the Department.
"Lastly, the importance of the Principal Cyber Advisor cannot be overlooked, and I am pleased to welcome back Brigadier General Dennis Crall, the Deputy PCA, before our subcommittee. The PCA’s roll in synchronizing, coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of the Department’s Cyber Strategy is renewed again since DOD recently released an updated Cyber Strategy in September of 2018, and completed a comprehensive Cyber Posture Review directed by this committee. With action being taken on DOD’s “top 10 cyber priorities” and “first four” efforts, I look forward to hearing more today about the important progress being made.
"So, thank you again to each of our witnesses."