The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reported favorably Congressman Gary Palmer's (R-AL) bill H.R. 4361, the Federal Information Systems Safeguards (FISS) Act of 2016, by recorded vote (21-16) today.
"Agencies should not be required to collectively bargain in order to take steps to secure data protecting federal agencies information systems and the personal information of federal employees," Palmer said. "The directors of federal agencies have a responsibility to protect their IT systems and they should be able to carry out that responsibility without unnecessary interference. This bill will enhance the security of Federal information systems, and help prevent cyberattacks."
Following the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach, OPM tightened defenses against future cyberattacks by restricting access to Facebook, Gmail and other sites on the OPM federal network. This effort to improve security was hindered by union representatives citing a 2014 ruling by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, a loophole in current federal law preventing agencies from swiftly acting to reduce or eliminate security risks to their information systems.
The FISS Act will clarify the authority of agencies to take the appropriate action to enhance the security of their information technology networks and protect critical information databases as well as the information of federal employees. Agencies will not be required to first provide unions with the opportunity to bargain, protecting the security of their networks by preventing lengthy and expensive negotiations.