Congress

Library of Congress reports progress on IT security and modernization

Shutterstock image: Library of Congress interior. 

IT modernization efforts at the Library of Congress are on track, according to June 8 testimony from CIO Bernard A. Barton Jr. at a hearing of the Committee on House Administration.

The Library of Congress has had a history of IT troubles and found itself in the hot seat after a critical 2015 Government Accountability Office report identified noted a serious lack of adherence to basic standards and declared an urgent need for modernization.

The library's IT efforts had been hampered by an IT leadership gap, including three CIOs in five years. Since 2015, when Barton was hired, progress has been made on more than 31 GAO recommendations, the CIO said.

Under Barton's leadership, the Library of Congress "has made great strides in the IT area," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said. She added that the CIO faced steep challenges because the library has had "deficiencies there for a while." 

Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) praised the pace of implementing GAO recommendations, and added that the demands on IT infrastructure are growing because, "as technology has advanced, the library's constituencies have changed the way they consume information."

Barton's office is adopting the Technology Business Management IT Towers framework for fiscal year 2018, in order "to capture the entire IT spend for the agency." GAO auditors had criticized the library for its inability to identify or break out specific dollar amounts for its IT spend, and a cross-government team worked through much of 2015 and 2016 to encourage agencies to embrace the TBM framework.

In addition to establishing financial transparency, Barton said, the library has "taken a number of steps to consolidate or decrease duplication of IT activities."

Barton also assured legislators that a governance, risk, and compliance system to address IT security risk had been implemented, that an offsite alternate computing facility had been established, and that the library was now guarding against denial of service attacks with to a contract with a cloud-based mitigation service.

Barton said a key cybersecurity initiative would be the introduction of multifactor authentication and a more muscular "IT security posture" that includes a central dedicated Information Systems Security Office. That office, Barton said, would "allow true IT security professionals to ... ensure IT security" is part of every new library system, and ensure that no one system could inadvertently "become a weak link in the chain."

About the Author

Ben Berliner is an editorial fellow at FCW. He is a 2017 graduate of Kenyon College, and has interned at the Center for Responsive Politics and at Sunlight Foundation.

He can be contacted at bberliner@fcw.com.

Click here for previous articles by Berliner.


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