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Wicker, Blackburn Introduce Federal Data Privacy Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, today introduced the Setting an American Framework to Ensure Data Access, Transparency, and Accountability (SAFE DATA) Act. The legislation would provide Americans with more choice and control over their data and direct businesses to be more transparent and accountable for their data practices. The bill would also enhance the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority and provide additional resources to enforce the Act.

“With the recent increase in cyberattacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure and the ongoing efforts to expand internet services to every American, the need for federal privacy legislation is imperative,” said Wicker. “We risk losing consumers’ confidence in the internet marketplace and undermining our national security and technological leadership abroad without a federal privacy law. My bill would provide all consumers across the country with the same strong protections while ensuring innovation and competition remain a foundational principle to our economic advancements.” 

“Americans should be able to control their ‘virtual you.' The increase in cyberattacks and data leaks have made it extremely apparent to consumers that their online data may not be safe. The first step is giving Americans a larger say in how companies are collecting and using their information,” said Blackburn. 

The SAFE DATA Act would: 

  • Provide Americans with more choice and control over their data by:
    • Requiring businesses to allow consumers to access, correct, delete, and port their data;
    • Prohibiting businesses from processing or transferring consumers’ sensitive data without their consent;
    • Prohibiting businesses from denying consumers products or services for exercising their privacy rights;
    • Minimizing the amount of consumer data businesses can collect, process, and retain;
    • Limiting secondary uses of consumer data without their consent;
    • Establishing uniform data protections across the country enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general;
  • Direct businesses to be more transparent and accountable for their data practices by:
    • Requiring businesses to disclose a privacy policy to consumers detailing their data collection, processing, and transfer activities, and notify consumers of any material changes to those activities;
    • Requiring businesses to conduct privacy impact assessments of data processing activities that may present a heightened risk of harm to consumers;
    • Requiring businesses to secure consumers’ data and maintain internal controls and reporting structures to assess data privacy risks to consumers; and
    • Prohibiting businesses from processing data in ways that violate federal Civil Rights laws.
  • Strengthen the FTC’s ability to respond to potentially harmful changes in technology and hold businesses accountable for misusing consumers’ data by:
    • Authorizing the FTC to develop new rules to expand categories of sensitive data;
    • Requiring the FTC to share any information with the appropriate Executive or State agency if it obtains information that a business has processed or transferred consumer data in a way that violates Federal anti-discrimination laws;
    • Requiring the FTC to maintain a data broker registry; and
    • Expanding the FTC’s authority to oversee the data use practices of common carriers and nonprofit organizations.

Click here to read the bill.

Wicker has championed the need for a federal data privacy law while serving as the top Republican leader of the Committee. This month, Wicker sent a letter urging President Joseph Biden to prioritize comprehensive data privacy legislation as part of the Administration’s agenda. Last Congress, Wicker released a staff draft of the United States Consumer Data Privacy Act and introduced the original version of the SAFE DATA Act a year later. The current bill resembles the staff draft framework that was developed through bipartisan negotiations.

Pipeline Cybersecurity: Protecting Critical Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene a hearing titled “Pipeline Cybersecurity: Protecting Critical Infrastructure“ at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The hearing will examine the current state of pipeline cybersecurity and the role that federal regulators play in protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure from malicious actors. This hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine recent actions taken in response to pipeline cyber incidents and gaps in our current oversight and regulatory structure.

 

 Witnesses:

 

  • Hon. David Pekoske, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration
  • Hon. Polly Trottenberg, Deputy Secretary, Department of Transportation
  • Leslie Gordon, Acting Director, Homeland Security and Justice, Government Accountability Office

 

Hearing Details:

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

10:00 a.m. EDT

Russell Senate Office Building 253

 

Watch LIVE at www.commerce.senate.gov

 

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend.

 

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Wealth for the Working Class: The Clean Energy Economy

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 07/27/2021 - 10:00am
The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development will hold a hybrid hearing titled: “Wealth for the Working Class: The Clean Energy Economy.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Participating members can also join remotely via Zoom.

The clean energy economy has seen robust growth in recent decades and now presents the opportunity for widespread wealth creation that benefits American small businesses, their workers, and consumers. It has the potential to create millions of good-paying jobs spread across tens of thousands of businesses while simultaneously lowering energy prices for consumers. This hearing will focus on workforce development initiatives in the clean energy economy, discuss Congressional proposals regarding clean energy, and explore the potential for the growth this industry could unleash.

To view a livestream of the hearing, please click here. 

Hearing Notice 

Hearing Memo 

Witnesses 


 





Wicker, Blackburn Question CPSC Decision to Withdraw Port Inspectors During Pandemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, today sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an analysis of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) decision to withdraw port inspectors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks to consumers from dangerous products that may have increased as a result. 

“Though the agency attempted to compensate for the absence of on-site personnel by conducting remote screenings, this decision led to CPSC inspectors performing significantly fewer port safety screenings in comparison with previous years,” the Senators wrote. “This, coupled with an increase in American online shopping due to the pandemic, has led to the possibility that CPSC has allowed significantly more hazardous products into the domestic market than it has in previous years.”

This letter followed reports that CPSC personnel were completely absent from ports of entry for a period of months after the pandemic began last year, likely causing dangerous products to enter the country during this period of lax oversight. The CPSC released a staff report on June 25, 2021, summarizing how the agency carried out its responsibilities at the ports remotely, but failed to adequately address consumer products entering the country during that time and what steps it will take to remove those products from the marketplace.

On March 23, 2021, Wicker, Blackburn, and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, sent a letter to CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler asking for a full accounting of the $50 million appropriated to the agency in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for enhanced port surveillance and screening of consumer products for potential safety standard violations. 

Click here or read the letter below: 

The CPSC Office of Import Surveillance, responsible for monitoring consumer products entering the United States through ports, dispatches inspectors to ports around the country to look for products that violate federal laws or safety rules administered by the CPSC. Typically, CPSC inspectors conduct thousands of safety screenings each month. In December 2020, however, reports emerged that the Commission had significantly curtailed port inspections for several months earlier in the year. In March 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19, CPSC leadership directed port inspectors to begin working remotely, rendering them largely unable to conduct in-person inspections of shipments of products until such screenings resumed in September.

Though the agency attempted to compensate for the absence of on-site personnel by conducting remote screenings, this decision led to CPSC inspectors performing significantly fewer port safety screenings in comparison with previous years. This, coupled with an increase in American online shopping due to the pandemic, has led to the possibility that CPSC has allowed significantly more hazardous products into the domestic market than it has in previous years.

 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 included language directing CPSC to ensure that investigators remain stationed at ports of entry for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic to the maximum extent feasible and to hire 16 additional port inspectors. Congress later appropriated $50 million for CPSC to carry out these directives in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. On March 23, 2021, the Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and their respective subcommittees with jurisdiction over the CPSC wrote a letter to CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler requesting an accounting of how this funding is spent at the end of each fiscal year.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 also directed CPSC to issue a report to Congress on, among other things, the risks to consumer safety associated with the reduction in port surveillance activity during the pandemic. CPSC complied with this directive in the form of a staff report released on June 25, 2021. The report has been criticized, however, for failing to answer basic questions about the risk to consumers from dangerous products that entered the market during the period of lax in-person inspections or how the agency plans to mitigate those risks.

Given the number of important questions surrounding this issue that remain unanswered by CPSC, we request that the Government Accountability Office undertake an analysis of CPSC’s decision to withdraw port inspectors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks to consumers from dangerous products that may have increased as a result. In particular, we request that the analysis assess:

  • The decision-making process behind the initial decision to withdraw port inspectors, including whether appropriate Commission members and staff were kept informed of related developments;
  • The necessity of the withdrawal of port inspectors given contemporary understanding of the risks of COVID-19, the availability of personal protective equipment, and other relevant considerations;
  • The nature and adequacy of CPSC’s internal assessment of the risks to consumers of dangerous products escaping detection at the ports due to the decision to withdraw inspectors, both prior to the initial decision and any updates made over the course of the following year;
  • Whether any attempt was made to mislead members of Congress and appropriate congressional committees about the withdrawal of port inspectors;
  • The timeline of the status of in-person staffing at the ports, including the length of time that inspections were being done entirely remotely and the date on which full in-person staffing was restored;
  • Whether additional resources appropriated to CPSC to address port inspection issues were appropriately expended by the Commission pursuant to congressional direction;
  • The effectiveness of methods of remote inspection employed by the Commission during the period of withdrawal compared to in-person inspection;
  • The amount and type of products in violation of laws or standards administered by CPSC that likely entered the U.S. market due to the withdrawal of in-person port inspectors, including whether those products present a danger to consumers or are otherwise noncompliant;
  • The nature and effectiveness of CPSC’s efforts to mitigate the risks associated with dangerous products entering the U.S. market due to the withdrawal of in-person port inspectors; and
  • The degree of risk to American consumers from dangerous products that remains due to CPSC’s actions during this period, and any recommendations for how CPSC or Congress can act to further mitigate these risks.

Chair Cantwell On Cyber Threats to Energy Infrastructure: Colonial Pipeline Attack “The Tip of the Iceberg”

 TV-QUALITY OPENING STATEMENT | TV-QUALITY Q&A | TRANSCRIPT 

“I was very aggressive with the Trump administration about this. I plan to be very aggressive with the Biden administration about this as well.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today convened a hearing to further review the federal response to the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline Company and examine what additional actions must be taken to strengthen America’s cybersecurity defenses and better protect our nation’s critical infrastructure. The Committee heard testimony from Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske, Department of Transportation (DOT) Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg, and Acting Director of Homeland Security and Justice at the Government Accountability Office, Leslie Gordon.

“Earlier this year, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline caused the company to shut down its pipeline system that supplies nearly 50 percent of all fuel for the East Coast,”Chair Cantwell said. “This incident underscores the potential consequences any single cyber-attack can have on our daily lives and the need to better manage and bolster cybersecurity for our critical infrastructure.”

Chair Cantwell went on to discuss the risks of failing to harden our energy infrastructure and reduce our vulnerability to potentially crippling cyber attacks.

“The rapid growth in the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks is the alarm bell ringing about the need to immediately bolster the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure,” Chair Cantwell said. “If we don’t, it is only matter time before we will see another crippling cyber incident that will have an even more catastrophic impact than we saw with Colonial Pipeline.”

Chair Cantwell has been warning for years about America’s vulnerability to an attack of this kind—even issuing this warning during a 2017 Energy and Natural Resources hearing“There is the issue of cybersecurity that keeps me up at night, thinking about potential hacks from Russia or foreign actors, as we see large-scale attacks happening in other places. If we do not make the necessary investments to prevent, defend against and minimize the impact of these cyberattacks, our enemies may succeed in causing us a widespread blackout or devastation to our economy.”

In 2018, Cantwell joined Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to demand immediate action from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a series of recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to Leslie Gordon, the witness from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), her agency has over 950 open recommendations about cyber security across the federal government. All three witnesses agreed with Chair Cantwell that more needs to be done to address these vulnerabilities.

Earlier this year, Chair Cantwell wrote to Biden DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pressing for further action and announcing that she would be convening today’s hearing focused on the issue as well.

Cantwell also pledged at today’s hearing to continue being active on this issue, saying: “I was very aggressive with the Trump Administration about this. I plan to be very aggressive with the Biden Administration about this as well. This is just not acceptable after the Colonial Pipeline. It wasn't acceptable before, but now we know how serious the threat can be…There are things that can be done. We should be doing them now.”

Cantwell has been the leading voice on protecting critical U.S. infrastructure, including energy infrastructure such as the electric grid and oil and gas pipelines, from cyber attacks. On March 12, 2017, and June 22, 2017, Senator Cantwell sent letters to President Trump calling on him to defend energy infrastructure and to instruct DOE to conduct an analysis of Russian capabilities with respect to cyber attacks on U.S. energy infrastructure.

In hearing after hearingCantwell has pressed for increased collaboration between the government, private sector, utilities, military, and academia to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from cyber attacks. And in July 2018, Cantwell and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump calling for greater action from the federal government to defend the U.S. energy grid from cyber attacks.

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The FTC’s Rescission of its 2015 Policy Statement on Section 5: If Not Consumer Welfare and the Rule of Reason, What?

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 10:42am

By William Kolasky, chair of the Antitrust and Competition practice at Hughes Hubbard & Reed in Washington, DC.

Snapshot: Drawing on extensive analysis of the FTC Act’s legislative record, a leading antitrust-law attorney and scholar debunks three FTC Commissioners’ justifications for eliminating a bipartisan guidance for how to pursue “unfair methods of competition” enforcement, and concludes that a drift away from first principles will stoke harmful uncertainty that chills competition. 

Executive Summary (click HERE for PDF of this summary)
For the last forty years, enforcement of the antitrust laws has been guided by the principle that the laws are meant to protect competition, not competitors, and thereby to protect consumer welfare. The framework the Supreme Court and lower courts have developed to enforce the antitrust laws with that larger goal in mind is a modern version of the rule of reason the Court first enunciated in 1911.

The Biden Administration’s senior antitrust appointments, and the “reform” views reflected in those individuals’ past academic writings, have placed the consumer-welfare approach to antitrust at substantial risk. The first clear sign of these appointees’ preference for a more forceful, structuralist approach was the Federal Trade Commission’s decision, taken along partisan lines and after little opportunity for public input, to rescind a 2015 policy statement. The statement provided guidance on how the FTC would interpret FTC Act § 5’s ban on “unfair methods of competition.” The three Commissioners asserted that the statement contravened the text, structure, and history of the FTC Act, and also that the statement’s challenging administrability would undermine enforcement.

This Working Paper explains why both reasons for rescinding the § 5 statement lack merit. First, the 2015 Statement is fully consistent with the principles Congress intended to guide enforcement of FTC Act § 5. Informed by an exhaustive review of the legislative record, the paper details these five principles which, at their core, reflect enforcement to protect competition and the public interest by applying the rule of reason.

Second, contrary to the Commissioners’ conclusion, the courts have successfully made the rule of reason more administrable and their approach provided the Commission guidance when making enforcement decisions. Notably, Supreme Court justices that firmly believe in strong antitrust enforcement, such as Justices Stevens and Breyer, have led the creation of a useful analytical framework for reviewing defendants’ actions or policies. That framework does not favor plaintiffs or defendants.  Instead, the framework seeks to balance the public’s interest in both competition and efficiency, just as Congress intended when it created the Federal Trade Commission.

Rescission of the 2015 Statement is a significant step toward expanding the FTC’s discretion and seemingly its ability to use antitrust as a tool to cure such social ills as income inequality and increased market concentration. But it’s far from clear whether antitrust policy can be blamed for these ills. . And it’s further unclear how an antitrust approach detached from the rule of reason and consumer welfare can be an effective tool in protecting competition without unduly impeding the efficient functioning of the market, much less for addressing broader societal problems.  

The post The FTC’s Rescission of its 2015 Policy Statement on Section 5: If Not Consumer Welfare and the Rule of Reason, What? appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

Senators Introduce Resolution to Commend the Service of Hamilton-Class Coast Guard Cutters

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., ranking member and chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing, along with Sens. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced a resolution to commend the service of Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutters and the crews who served on them. 

“Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutters played an important role in our national security for over half a century,” said Wicker. “These cutters supported missions in the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, in addition to some of the largest search and rescue operations and drug interdictions in U.S. history. I thank the officers and crews of the Hamilton-class cutters for their service, and I congratulate the Coast Guard for continuing to advance the capabilities of its fleet with the National Security Cutter.” 

“For nearly five decades, Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, officers, and crews have served the Coast Guard’s missions including search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, drug interdictions and disaster relief,” said Cantwell. “Just last month, the former cutter Midgett – the final member of the Coast Guard’s endurance fleet to be decommissioned – set off from its homeport of Seattle to its new home as part of the Vietnam Coast Guard fleet.  I’m proud to co-sponsor this resolution recognizing the Hamilton-class cutters and I commend the men and women who served on them.” 

“Alaskans witnessed the conclusion of an impressive, fifty-year history of the Hamilton-class cutters with the decommissioning of the USCGC Munro at Kodiak in April,” said Sullivan. “These vessels, and the outstanding members of the Coast Guard who operated them, have faithfully defended America’s territorial waters and executed critical missions around the globe for decades. I’m glad to join this resolution recognizing the proud legacy of the Hamilton-class cutters and their crews, a legacy that will endure in the next generation of cutters that we’ve worked so hard to secure in Congress.”

“The Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutters have been an important asset in the Coast Guard fleet and have helped maintain the safety of our territorial waters,” said Gillibrand. “As chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, I am proud to commend the men and women of the Coast Guard who served on this fleet and played a substantial role in our nation’s defense for more than fifty years.”

“These ships, mostly built in Avondale, Louisiana, are a symbol of the prestige and power of the United States Coast Guard. The men and women aboard these ships work to keep our waters safe and stop drugs that are headed towards our communities. This resolution honors the service and accomplishments of these vessels and their crew,” said Cassidy.

“With this resolution, we commemorate the service of the Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutters, their crews, and the shipbuilders for their contribution to our national defense.  We also look to the future and the resources required to give our Coast Guard the mightiest capabilities to serve our nation.  Additional National Security Cutters and polar icebreakers must be part of that equation,” Hyde-Smith said.   

In April 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro was decommissioned in Kodiak, Alaska, ending nearly 55 years of service that Hamilton-class cutters have provided the United States. The National Security Cutters, constructed in Mississippi, replaced the Hamilton-class cutters. There are currently nine National Security Cutters in active service, with another two planned for delivery to the Coast Guard.    

Read the full text of the resolution here or below:

Whereas the first Hamilton-class cutter was the United States Coast Guard Cutter (referred to in this preamble as ‘‘USCGC’’) Hamilton, which was placed in full com- mission on March 18, 1967; 

Whereas USCGC Mellon, USCGC Chase, USCGC Dallas, USCGC Boutwell, USCGC Sherman, USCGC Gallatin, USCGC Morgenthau, USCGC Rush, USCGC Munro, USCGC Midgett, and USCGC Jarvis completed the class of high endurance cutters and were 1 of the most highly versatile and capable vessels at the time of their construction at Avondale Shipyards in Louisiana;

Whereas Hamilton-class cutters courageously supported multiple peacetime and wartime operations during their time in active service, including Operation Market Time, Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Operation Deny Flight, and Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas Hamilton-class cutters conducted illegal narcotics interdictions totaling 3,300,000 pounds and $23,600,000,000 in market value, including the interdiction conducted by USCGC Hamilton and USCGC Sherman of the M/V Gatun, which discovered 20 metric tons of illegal narcotics with an estimated street value of $600,000,000 for the largest narcotics interdiction in United States history at the time;

Whereas Hamilton-class cutters have saved thousands of lives during search and rescue operations at sea, including the rescue conducted by USCGC Boutwell and USCGC Mellon of all 520 passengers and crew of the M/S Prinsendam, one of the largest at-sea rescues in Coast Guard history; 

Whereas Hamilton-class cutters received excellent shoreside support at Coast Guard homeports in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, and Washington, allowing the cutters to perform admirably past their service life; 

Whereas the Mississippi-built National Security Cutter replaced the Hamilton-class cutter to continue the storied success of high endurance Coast Guard cutters at sea; 

Whereas USCGC Douglas Munro, formerly known as USCGC Munro, decommissioned on April 24, 2021, ending over 54 years of service of Hamilton-class cutters to the United States;

Whereas Coast Guard cutters remain a vital component of United States capability across the globe in serving to protect life at sea, deterring illicit activity, and ensuring the continuance of the international rules-based order at all levels of the competition continuum;

Whereas the increasing global complexity and expanding demand for Coast Guard services necessitates the best people, modern technology, resilient infrastructure, and highly capable assets; and 

Whereas Congress must recognize the importance of maximizing afloat readiness for the Coast Guard by supporting personnel, investing in mission-enabling technologies, and modernizing assets: Now, therefore, be it  

Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) recognizes the success of the Hamilton-class cutters in service to the United States;
(2) commends the officers and crew of Hamilton-class cutters for their technical excellence, accomplishments, professionalism, and sacrifices;
(3) supports the role of Coast Guard cutters and their importance to national security, law enforcement at sea, and homeland defense; and
(4) applauds the Coast Guard for continuing to advance the capabilities of the fleet with the National Security Cutter to adapt to the growing need for a global Coast Guard presence. 

 

Space Situational Awareness, Space Traffic Management, and Orbital Debris: Examining Solutions for Emerging Threats

Commerce Committee Announces Subcommittee Hearing on Space and Science on July 22, 2021

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, Chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Science, will convene a hearing titled “Space Situational Awareness, Space Traffic Management, and Orbital Debris: Examining Solutions for Emerging Threats” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Reliable space situational awareness (“SSA”) data and civil space traffic management (“STM”) services are critical to enabling continued growth of the innovative commercial space industry.  As the number of satellites in orbit rapidly increases, the nation must redouble its efforts to track and manage objects in space.  Witnesses will discuss the policies, programs, and research needed for effective civil SSA, STM, and orbital debris mitigation.

Witnesses:

  • Karina Drees, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • Kevin O’Connell, Founder and CEO, Space Economy Rising LLC 
  • Dr. Marcus Holzinger, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Paul Graziani, Co-Founder, Analytical Graphics Inc., and Chief Executive Officer, COMSPOC Corp, Canonsburg, PA
  • Tom Stroup, President, Satellite Industry Association

 

Hearing Details:

Thursday, July 22, 2021

10:00 a.m. EDT

Subcommittee on Space and Science (Hybrid)

SR-253

Space Situational Awareness, Space Traffic Management, and Orbital Debris: Examining Solutions for Emerging Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, Chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Science, will convene a hearing titled “Space Situational Awareness, Space Traffic Management, and Orbital Debris: Examining Solutions for Emerging Threats” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Reliable space situational awareness (“SSA”) data and civil space traffic management (“STM”) services are critical to enabling continued growth of the innovative commercial space industry.  As the number of satellites in orbit rapidly increases, the nation must redouble its efforts to track and manage objects in space.  Witnesses will discuss the policies, programs, and research needed for effective civil SSA, STM, and orbital debris mitigation.

 

Witnesses: 

  • Karina Drees, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
  • Kevin O’Connell, Founder and CEO, Space Economy Rising LLC 
  • Dr. Marcus Holzinger, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Paul Graziani, Co-Founder, Analytical Graphics Inc., and Chief Executive Officer, COMSPOC Corp, Canonsburg, PA

 

Hearing Details:

Thursday, July 22, 2021

10:00 a.m. EDT

Subcommittee on Space and Science

SR-253

 

This hearing will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building 253.  A livestream of this hearing will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov

 

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend.

 

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Sen. Cantwell Discusses Space Traffic Management During Subcommittee Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today questioned Dr. Marcus Holzinger, Associate Professor of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder regarding the role of universities in researching and developing systems to improve space situational awareness and effectively manage increasing space traffic and orbital debris.

The Senator’s exchange came during a Space and Science Subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator John Hickenlooper. 

[CLICK HERE TO WATCH]

Below is a transcript of the exchange.

Cantwell: Thank you, Senator Hickenlooper and thank you and Senator Lummis for holding this important hearing. Thank you to all the witnesses who are here. This is a very important topic for many companies in the Pacific Northwest because we're continuing to focus on space in so many different ways. We like to think that we're the Silicon Valley of space issues. I think I've mentioned even in this committee, I met people who told me they were working on materials for a space hotel. I thought they meant like in your backyard, giving you more space, so your relatives could come and visit -- like an REI solution. They said, “No, up there. I'm working on materials for up there.” Okay. So let's just say that people are planning ahead in the Pacific Northwest. So Dr. Holzinger, when you’ve been having this discussion about traffic and traffic management, and I'm a firm believer in using all the information we can to develop a system for that, because we're going to need to but what can our universities do now? What is the appropriate role for some of these institutions that could help you know, in in in doing this?

 

Holzinger: thank you, Senator Cantwell, our universities have a couple of critical roles in this activity. Principally, especially the R1 research universities, are activities centered around researching the fundamental basic research and developing technologies that enable SSA, STM and improve those activities. So basic research and applied research to do those things.

Another aspect of our endeavor in this front is to train the workforce. So that means training master's students, PhD students to perform these activities. And anecdotally, I might offer that across the country, approximately 300 PhD students are graduated in aerospace each year, but only a small fraction of those are actually in space. We've already heard from one Senator before that it's difficult to find engineers that are sufficiently trained in this activity. And that's a challenge, you know, of course that we face. That, of course, relates to our previous activity and research. Traditionally, PhD students are funded on research for five, six years. And, you know, continuity of funding for that research is a critical element of that activity.

Cantwell: What would you think that study would look like? Or what would that degree be called?

Holzinger: So that degree, sits pretty squarely in what I would imagine to be aerospace engineering. And turns out that the University of Colorado actually already has a graduate certificate on space domain awareness that ties together many of these aspects. Some of those aspects are physics based. Some are more information theory and controls based, and others tie into things like human factors and how operators can actually interpret what's going on up on orbit and make sense out of those things.

Cantwell: Well, now the deputy at NASA, Pam Melroy, she's basically said that this is a situation that's getting dire. So we've had a lot of commercial activity in the last 10 days. So what do you think the commercial space perspective is on this issue?

Holzinger: Can you repeat that last part?

 

Cantwell:  As we have people who are planning activities, and as the Deputy Director is calling it, we need a reliable space traffic system and the situation is getting dire. How do you think about where we are with commercial activity and this issue and the urgency of getting something done?

 

Holzinger: So in my opening statement, I'll repeat some of these some of these statements. It's both inspiring and terrifying. What the commercial space industry is doing, it's inspiring, because it's an excellent thing. Right? It's, it's an excellent avenue to grow our economy. And there's a lot of future potential and prosperity that we have the potential to reap in the future. It's terrifying in the sense that the current standards and methodologies that that we use, stem ultimately from the 60’s 70’s and 80’s, and haven't really leveraged the modern techniques that have been developed over the past couple decades.

And so from a university perspective, you know, I think that the best thing that we can do is to improve those means, methods and techniques, and to have as much of transparency and open information about those activities as possible on the commercial front.

Cantwell: And then identifying the type of technology we need, because if we're talking about smaller objects, and it's hard to track or hard to track their telemetry of how fast they're going, is that what we need?

Holzinger: Absolutely. So elements of that in terms of infrastructure include things like more sensors with better detection thresholds, the ability to collect and fuse that information in close to real time. The ability to fuse that information also with current space weather and to be able to issue indications and warnings of potentially deleterious effects.

Cantwell: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you again for this hearing.

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What They Are Saying | Industry Leaders Welcome Wicker’s PRO-SPEECH Act

Top leaders and organizations are expressing support for the Promoting Rights and Online Speech Protections to Ensure Every Consumer is Heard (PRO-SPEECH) Act after U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the bill last month. The legislation would establish baseline protections to prohibit Big Tech from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive practices that limit or control consumers’ speech. 

See below for what they are saying:   

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): “While Section 230 reform remains necessary, it is not sufficient standing alone to address Big Tech’s discriminatory conduct,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr. Section 230 reform must be paired with a broader effort to apply antidiscrimination requirements to large Internet platforms. Senator Wicker’s legislation would take this important next step in the ongoing efforts to hold Big Tech accountable.

“I applaud Senator Wicker for his bold leadership and thoughtful legislation. His bill would give Big Tech a simple choice: either stop blocking people from posting and accessing lawful content or declare that you are acting as a publisher and accept the responsibilities that come with that status. In no event, however, should an Internet platform take actions against a user based on racial, sexual, religious, political affiliation, or ethnic grounds, as Senator Wicker’s legislation would prohibit. These are core antidiscrimination obligations that state and federal laws have long applied to a range of businesses.

“Senator Wicker’s bill would also bring much needed transparency to Big Tech’s practices and rein in their anticompetitive conduct. This is an important piece of legislation, and I urge policymakers at the federal and state levels to consider the approach that Senator Wicker has laid out.”

American Principles Project: “Under Senator Wicker's legislation, Big Tech platforms are offered a choice: they can either promote free speech and free expression, and stop discriminating against their users, or they can publicly declare themselves to be publishers and forgo their Section 230 immunity,” said Jon Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at American Principles Project. This would codify the common sense argument Big Tech critics have been making for years — if a company like Twitter wants to pick and choose what kinds of opinions are allowed on its website, then it's not in the platform business, it's in the publishing business.

“Importantly, the bill creates a broad protection for speech by incorporating the phrases ‘lawful content’ and ‘lawful internet traffic.’ In other words, anything that could be said legally on a public sidewalk would be protected speech on Big Tech platforms under this statute. The legislation would also protect innovators by not applying these rules to small companies and would simultaneously prevent Big Tech companies from engaging in anti-competitive behavior like what happened to Parler in January. And the bill would require Big Tech companies to be more transparent and hold them more accountable to their own terms of services.

“Sen. Wicker deserves a lot of credit for coming up with such an innovative proposal. Our hope is that it will generate a substantive conversation in the months ahead as Republicans look to pass legislation addressing Big Tech censorship should they take back the House and Senate in 2022.”

Conservative Partnership Institute: (Tweet) “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” said Rachel Bovard, Senior Director of Policy at Conservative Partnership Institute. 

Ethics & Public Policy Center: (Tweet) “@SenatorWicker just introduced a new bill with a novel approach for holding Big Tech accountable. A bold and innovative step forward,” said Clare Morell, Policy Analyst at Big Tech Project.

Federalist Society: (Blog) “The PRO-SPEECH Act is as ‘middle of the road’ as it gets, while addressing some of the hardest issues now confronting tech policy without forcing these companies to change their business models or resorting to a complete rewrite of our antitrust laws. It is a model worthy of further study and deliberation,” said Joel Thayer, Principal at Thayer, PLLC.

Free State Foundation: “I commend the introduction of the legislation as a spur to further consideration of what to do about Big Tech's cancellation power…Senator Wicker’s legislative effort provides a helpful frame,” said Randolph May, President of Free State Foundation 

Newsweek: (Op-ed) “Senator Roger Wicker's PRO-SPEECH Act, takes a novel approach to one of the most pressing threats to our democracy: Big Tech's control of our political discussion.

“Senator Wicker's thoughtful and innovative bill tackles these platforms' unjustified control and censorship head-on.

“The PRO-SPEECH Act offers a strong, creative solution for protecting speech and competition in social media. Wicker has shown there are more strings for legislators to pull to curb Big Tech's censorship,” said Adam Candeub, Professor of Law at Michigan State University/Senior Fellow at the Center for Renewing America and Clare Morell, Policy Analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

GSA and Veterans Affairs convey Highland Drive Property to the City of Pittsburgh

GSA news releases - Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:00am
Historic property will become new training facility for emergency responders PITTSBURGH — The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Health Care System (VAPHS) are pleased to announce the conveyance of the property at 7180 Highland Drive,...

SBA’s Role in Climate Solutions

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/21/2021 - 10:00am
The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations will hold a hybrid hearing titled: “SBA’s Role in Climate Solutions.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Participating members can also join remotely via Zoom.

Climate change is increasingly becoming a threat to local economies, but small businesses can take steps to become more resilient and boost their competitiveness. The SBA can support efforts to facilitate access to capital for climate change mitigation investments and resilience efforts. This hearing will allow members to learn more about the role that small businesses can play in addressing climate change, and how federal programs and services support small businesses adapt, innovate, and thrive.

To view a livestream of the hearing, please click here

Hearing Notice 

Hearing Memo 

Witnesses 



Wicker, Capito, Young Introduce Bill to Explore Collecting USF Contributions from Big Tech

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., and Todd Young, R-Ind., today introduced the Funding Affordable Internet with Reliable (FAIR) Contributions Act. The legislation would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a study into the feasibility of collecting Universal Service Fund (USF) contributions from internet edge providers such as YouTube, Netflix, and Google. 

“More consumers are moving to internet-based services,” said Wicker. “This raises concerns about the sustainability of fees collected from consumers’ telephone bills, which support broadband deployment in underserved areas. As online platforms continue to dominate the internet landscape, we should consider the feasibility of Big Tech contributing to the USF to ensure rural areas are not left behind as we work to close the digital divide.”

“There’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to close the digital divide—whether you’re working from home, finishing school assignments, or in need of a telehealth appointment,” Capito said. “And, while we’ve made progress, we still have a long way to go. As we all know, building out our internet infrastructure is expensive, and we have utilized various sources to pay for it. For too long, Big Tech has been able to profit off of the critical infrastructure used for common day-to-day activities while not helping at a sufficient level to improve those capabilities with broadband investment in states like West Virginia. With communications platforms moving away from telephone networks toward internet heavy platforms, it’s important now more than ever that we start looking at ways that Big Tech can step up and help close the digital divide and secure true universal service for West Virginians. Our legislation is a solid first step in working toward this goal and making this a reality.”

The FAIR Contributions Act would:

  • Direct the FCC to issue a Notice of Inquiry seeking public comment on the feasibility of collecting USF contributions from internet edge providers, and issue a final report on the matter within 180 days.
  • Require the FCC to consider:
  • Possible sources of Big Tech revenue, such as digital advertising and user fees;
  • The fairness of the current system and a system under which contributions could be assessed on Big Tech firms;
  • The feasibility of assessing contributions on such a broad category of firms that do not currently register with the FCC;
  • The effects such a change would have on Tribal, low-income, and elderly consumers; and
  • The changes to current law necessary to implement this system. 

Click here for the bill.

Through the USF, the FCC disburses approximately $10 billion per year to fund broadband deployment to high-cost rural areas, schools and libraries, rural health care facilities, telehealth services, and broadband subsidies for low-income Americans. The USF collects money from telecommunications carriers, set at a percentage of their interstate and international revenues, which carriers usually pass onto consumers in their monthly bills.

 

Committee GOP Members Urge Leader Schumer to Follow Regular Order to Advance Broadband in Infrastructure Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today joined eight Committee colleagues in a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move any broadband-related provisions through the committee process while developing bipartisan infrastructure legislation. 

“Over the past year, billions of dollars have been appropriated to multiple agencies to expand broadband access across the country. Although no formal accounting has been conducted to evaluate how or where that money has been spent, efforts are underway to spend billions more on broadband,” the Members wrote.

Members who joined Wicker in the letter include Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.

Wicker has expressed the importance for agencies to account for the disbursement of funds before billions more is spent on broadband in another legislative vehicle. Wicker urged the Department of the Treasury to coordinate efforts with the other federal agencies supporting broadband deployment to make sure funding is not going to areas that already have broadband service or where existing funding is pending. Last month, Wicker sent letters to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Treasury requesting the agencies to report on the disbursement of funds received for broadband deployment.

This letter is part of ongoing efforts to ensure broadband resources are spent prudently and avoid the mistakes of past stimulus efforts that ultimately led to significant waste, overbuilding, and millions of Americans still left unconnected.

Click here or read full letter below:

Dear Leader Schumer:

We write to urge you to work through regular order to advance broadband-related provisions in any bipartisan infrastructure legislation. While we appreciate the ongoing efforts by our colleagues to expand broadband access, advancing broadband legislative proposals through the committee of jurisdiction, with subject matter expertise, is critical to ensuring that resources are appropriately targeted to communities in need, and any new broadband programs are implemented with the proper oversight and avoid wasting taxpayer dollars. 

Over the past year, billions of dollars have been appropriated to multiple agencies to expand broadband access across the country. Although no formal accounting has been conducted to evaluate how or where that money has been spent, efforts are underway to spend billions more on broadband.

We recognize the importance of expanding high-speed and reliable internet access to all Americans and closing the digital divide. We also support allocating necessary resources to expert federal agencies to achieve that objective. Yet, we fear that rushed legislative efforts that bypass the committee’s deliberative process and technical analysis will ultimately repeat the failures of past broadband programs. These failures included rampant overbuilding, duplication of existing private and public sector investments, unfinished projects, and millions of unconnected Americans. 

To avoid another missed opportunity, we urge you to move broadband legislation through the committee process for consideration. This is a vital step to developing a legislative product that will actually deliver broadband services to every American, promote continued competition and investment in the broadband industry, and increase digital opportunity for all.

Sincerely,

GSA 8(a) STARS III Contract Gets New Designation

GSA news releases - Wed, 07/21/2021 - 12:00am
Best-In-Class represents a preferred government-wide solution WASHINGTON -- Earlier this week, it was announced that the 8(a) STARS III Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) has achieved the designation of “Best In Class” (BIC) by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Best in Class is...

Senators Lummis (R-WY) and Klobuchar (D-MN) Join Bipartisan Equal Pay for Team USA Act As Cosponsors

Senators Lummis (R-WY) and Klobuchar (D-MN) Join Bipartisan Equal Pay for Team USA Act As Cosponsors 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV) announced that Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) have joined their Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2021 as cosponsors.

“As we work to even the playing field in sports, it’s critical that our athletes competing on the global stage are compensated equally,” said Sen. Klobuchar.  “This bipartisan legislation recognizes the importance of showing the world that the U.S. is firmly behind all of its athletes and is committed to ensuring that they are treated fairly.”

“Every United States athlete at the Olympics and other international competitions equally represents our great country,” said Sen. Lummis.  “The sport or event doesn’t matter – they all worked for the privilege of carrying our flag and competing on behalf of every American.  I’m proud of everyone who represents the United States in athletic competitions and proud to join my colleagues in supporting equal benefits for our female athletes.”

“It is long past time for us to work together to right this wrong and get this done,” Sen. Cantwell said when introducing the bill.  “All Americans are proud to see U.S. athletes represent our country on the world stage, and all Americans should be assured these athletes are being compensated equally.”

“When American athletes compete on the world stage, they represent our great nation, our people, and our values,” Sen. Capito said when the bill was introduced.  “It is only right that the women competing for the United States in global athletic competitions receive the same kind of pay and benefits as their male counterparts.”

The Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2021 would require that all athletes representing the United States in global athletic competitions receive equal compensation, benefits, medical care, travel, and reimbursement of expenses, regardless of gender. 

The bill applies to 50 different sports’ national governing bodies, and it requires the USOPC to conduct oversight and report on compliance with the legislation.  

 

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Strengthening the Cybersecurity Posture of America’s Small Business Community

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 10:00am
The Committee on Small Business will hold a hybrid hearing titled: “Strengthening the Cybersecurity Posture of America’s Small Business Community.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Participating members can also join remotely via Zoom.

Small businesses are highly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats as employers, suppliers, and consumers in a modern digital economy. Many cannot afford dedicated Information Technology (IT) staff to navigate and mitigate risks and are wary of investments in pricey software. This hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine the many cybersecurity threats facing small businesses and identify available resources. 

To view a livestream of the hearing, please click here. 

Hearing Notice 

Hearing Memo 

Witnesses 

Ms. Tasha Cornish
Executive Director
Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
Baltimore, MD

Ms. Sharon Nichols
State Director
Mississippi Small Business Development Center
University, MS

Ms. Kiersten Todt
Managing Director
Cyber Readiness Institute
New York, NY

Mr. Graham Dufault
Senior Director for Public Policy
ACT | The App Association
Washington, DC


Fact Sheet: Misconduct at the Commerce Department

In early February 2021, Ranking Member Roger Wicker of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee launched an investigation into alleged misconduct in the Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) at the Department of Commerce. The investigation began after whistleblowers reported a variety of improper activities dating back to the mid-2000s involving abuse of authority, mismanagement, and reprisal against Department employees.

Abuse of Authority

The ITMS has engaged in a troubling variety of investigative activities without proper authorization. The mission of the ITMS, formerly organized under the Office of Security, is to identify and assess threats to the Department of Commerce. Since the ITMS lacks independent police powers, the U.S. Marshals Service has been providing a limited delegation of law enforcement authority to agents through the Special Deputation program for the purpose of providing protection to the Secretary and the Department’s critical assets. Although the ITMS originally provided only protective services, the undefined meaning of “critical asset” allowed agents to engage in a variety of law enforcement activities that likely exceed the scope of the Special Deputation.

Over time, the ITMS began regularly conducting criminal investigations and eventually began using counterintelligence tools to gather information about both foreign visitors and U.S. citizens––despite lacking any proper form of authorization. In a recent submission to Congress, the Department even described the ITMS as a body that “fulfills U.S. national strategic requirements involving counterintelligence, transnational crime, and counterterrorism” by investigating “serious threats to national security.” In essence, officials justified involvement in any matter they saw fit by classifying it as a threat to a “critical asset.”

As a result, the ITMS has mutated into a rogue, unaccountable police force without a clear mission. In one instance, the ITMS investigated a Chinese-born scientist employed at the Department on charges of espionage, interrogating her for hours and drafting a criminal referral to federal prosecutors. Officials ultimately found insufficient evidence after she was arrested and dropped all criminal charges. In another case, the ITMS surveilled social media activity on Twitter to monitor accounts that posted commentary critical of processes used to conduct the U.S. Census. Whistleblowers claim that ITMS leadership sought to showcase the division’s intelligence-gathering capabilities by linking those accountholders––members of the general public––to disinformation campaigns orchestrated by foreign governments.

These are only a few of the documented instances of misconduct suggesting that officials in the ITMS abused their authority by conducting thousands of unauthorized investigations. Based on the evidence reviewed by minority Committee staff, the preliminarily conclusion is that involvement in any criminal investigation or counterintelligence operation constituted abuse of the Special Deputations program.

Mismanagement

Whistleblowers report that the ITMS suffers from chronic mismanagement. Minority Committee staff reviewed documents showing almost two thousand cases remained open at the end of 2020, and most have lacked any due diligence for nearly a decade. It appears that flawed document classification and case management systems within the office have resulted in the backlog, depriving those under investigation of a fair process. In multiple cases, whistleblowers claim that racial profiling served as pre-text for initiating investigations purportedly about threats to national security, disproportionately targeting Department employees with Chinese ancestry.

Reprisal

The breadth of investigative authorities that the ITMS used over time without any meaningful oversight is alarming. Whistleblowers claim that this construct allowed cases to be opened for purposes of intimidation and retribution, creating the allusion that an individual was under investigation when, in fact, no threat existed to Department personnel or property. Whistleblowers also report that a variety of investigative authorities have been weaponized against current and former ITMS personnel. They claim that retaliatory investigations are opened into agents who openly challenge the validity of the division’s investigative practices or question whether proper authorities existed to conduct them at all, often resulting in their separation from the Department.

Committee Timeline

In launching the investigation earlier this year, Ranking Member Wicker requested documents from the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Commerce (DOC-OIG) in a letter dated March 15, 2021. Although DOC-OIG has probed similar allegations related to abuse of authority in the ITMS in recent years, officials only released a limited portion of documents relevant to this investigation. To date, this request has not been completed.

As whistleblowers continued providing detailed and consistent accounts of misconduct, Ranking Member Wicker sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on April 27, 2021, in order to give notification about the investigation and request cooperation regarding access to additional witnesses and documents. In response, the Department issued a temporary order requiring that ITMS cease investigative activities on May 14, 2021, and pledged to “implement a comprehensive solution to the issues raised.”

This oversight effort is ongoing as minority Committee staff continues gathering evidence and reaching informed conclusions. An official report will be released in the coming months.  

GSA Hosts Think Cloud, Think GSA Event

GSA news releases - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, the General Services Administration’s (GSA) hosted an event: Think Cloud, Think GSA. The event​ highlighted GSA’s cloud, and cloud-enabled, IT portfolio and shared how cloud programs work together to support customer business needs. GSA was an early adopter of cloud...

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