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Small Business Subcommittee Examines Status of SBA Technology


Date: July 22, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Today, the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations heard from a Small Business Administration (SBA) official on the agency's use of technology and response to technological issues.

"This pandemic has underscored our reliance on modern technology to do almost anything and everything, from running a successful business and allowing employees to tele-work, to socializing while maintaining social distancing. Technology has been, and will continue to be, critical in allowing the private sector and public government to respond to recover from this pandemic," said Ranking Member Ross Spano (R-FL). "As the SBA continues to invest in new technologies, it is imperative that the agency ensures that the investment was worth it, that the outcome achieves the intended goals."

Chief Information Officer Addresses Concerns About Security, Communications

"The SBA continues to make progress towards its 21st century technology vision. Over the past 3+ years, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has completed the necessary building blocks to deliver and accelerate IT modernization at SBA. Before you can modernize an enterprise, you must ensure that you have a solid foundation. That started with the network infrastructure connecting all SBA offices, which was upgraded to current technologies, allowing us to double the bandwidth to those locations," said Mr. Guy Cavallo, Deputy Chief Information Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration, in Washington, DC. "Leveraging the cloud native cybersecurity capabilities, we have much better visibility into protecting [the] SBA from attacks and utilizing artificial intelligence to assist our security team separate the real threats from the background noise. As an example, we implemented geo-fencing on the SBA portals, so that network traffic originating from outside the country was blocked."

In response to a question by Ranking Member Spano about the office's use of CARES Act funding for staffing, Mr. Cavallo said, "…I knew immediately that our IT help desk, our network operations center, …our security operations center …those were all designed for three to four thousand users, not well over 12 thousand. So we have used the funds to help supplement that and my staff are working in those areas to make sure that the connectivity is there and that the cybersecurity protections are there and that we are not being overwhelmed by it. It's been a slow process to ramp that up; we're using both temporary federal employees and contractors to do that, so in our office, yes, we're well on the way to staffing up."