House bill calls on EPA to update IT systems that store air quality data

The “Clean Air in the Cloud Act” would codify recommendations from a Government Accountability Act report released in September 2023.
Rep. Gerry Connolly. (House Oversight Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency would be required to update the legacy IT platform it uses to store air quality data systems under new legislation in the House. 

The “Clean Air in the Cloud Act,” introduced Tuesday by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., pushes the EPA to update the IT system for storing AirNow and the Air Quality System (AQS). The bill’s requirements come directly from recommendations in a September 2023 Government Accountability Office study that Connolly requested. 

“I requested the GAO report on this issue because the federal government is only as good as the IT it utilizes,” Connolly said in a press release. “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 service.”

The watchdog recommended that the EPA consider an operational analysis along with developing and documenting a business case for a new IT system. Those would be rooted in considerations for how a system would be able to address challenges posed by the existing legacy systems. The agency agreed with both recommendations.


However, the EPA disagreed with a GAO recommendation that the agency should identify factors for assessing if the agency’s systems are ready for either replacement or retirement.

The GAO found that the use of multiple systems for air quality monitoring “results in inefficient use of resources” for EPA and other monitoring agencies. Agency officials reported that finding and retaining IT staff who could work with AQS’s “outdated software” was “particularly challenging.”

While the EPA declined to comment on the new legislation, a spokesperson said that the agency is “happy to provide technical assistance when asked.”

Caroline Nihill

Written by Caroline Nihill

Caroline Nihill is a reporter for FedScoop in Washington, D.C., covering federal IT. Her reporting has included the tracking of artificial intelligence governance from the White House and Congress, as well as modernization efforts across the federal government. Caroline was previously an editorial fellow for Scoop News Group, writing for FedScoop, StateScoop, CyberScoop, EdScoop and DefenseScoop. She earned her bachelor’s in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after transferring from the University of Mississippi.

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