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Connolly Introduces Clean Air in the Cloud Act

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced the Clean Air in the Cloud Act, legislation to encourage EPA to update their IT system for storing air quality data to address the challenges currently posed by the Air Quality System (AQS) and AirNow. Introduction of the legislation follows a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, requested by Connolly, that identified deficiencies with the AQS, which collects and stores the data captured by the air monitors throughout the country.

The AQS IT system barely meets current data management needs because the architecture of the system—which dates back to the 1990s—is antiquated and inflexible. The inflexibility of the AQS has made it difficult to make changes to the system to reflect the evolving data from the networks and produce data reports that meet users’ needs.

“I requested the GAO report on this issue because the federal government is only as good as the IT it utilizes,” said Connolly. “That’s true across government, and it’s certainly true for the EPA. It is my hope that, with this legislation, the EPA can resolve the challenges posed by AQS and AirNow to best deliver results for the American people they serve.”

The Clean Air in the Cloud Act requires EPA to implement three recommendations from the GAO report:

  1. Identify factors to help EPA evaluate if their IT systems are ready for replacement or retirement.
  2. Document an operational analysis for the AQS and AirNow. An operational analysis is a method of examining the ongoing performance of an operating asset investment and measuring that performance against an established set of cost, schedule, and performance goals.
  3. Develop and document a business case, in accordance with the EPA’s system life cycle management (SLCM) process, for a new IT system. EPA’s SLCM policy and procedure establish the agency’s approach for planning, developing, and managing IT systems.

Text of the legislation is available here.
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