Time to Reform Information Technology Acquisition: The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act

Witness and Testimony Documents
Chief Information Officer
Department of Homeland Security
Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management
Government Accountability Office
Associate Dean for Government Procurement Law Studies at the George Washington University Law School; Former Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget
President and CEO
Professional Services Council
Vice President, Global Public Policy
Amazon.com
February 27, 2013, 9:30 a.m. 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Today, we hold our second full committee hearing of the year concerning the Federal Government’s approximately $80 billion information technology budget. We are all well aware that the Government Accountability Office and others have repeatedly identified the problems and challenges in this area. This hearing is about solutions.

One solution at the center of our discussion today is the draft IT Acquisition Reform legislation I posted on the Committee’s web site last fall. In recent months, we have received generous feedback on the draft bill from several dozen parties.  And we will hear more feedback from the panel of witnesses gathered before us today.

The draft bill includes several key legislative ideas that have bipartisan support – such as speeding up the consolidation of data centers and making sure that open source software is on a level playing field. But most importantly, my draft proposal is intended to tackle the heart of waste and duplication by consolidating the resources we put into IT planning and investment. The need to implement greater accountability and consolidation will require legislation to do at least three specific things:

First, every agency needs one Chief Information Officer clearly in charge.

There are more than 240 CIOs in 24 major agencies. The Department of Transportation alone has 35 CIOs. There is no chain of command. We need to be able to hold one person accountable for IT spending at each agency.

Second, the one CIO in charge at each agency needs budget authority over all IT spending.

We need the one CIO per agency who is accountable for all IT spending to have the authority to do something about it. That budget authority needs to be flexible and transparent.

Third, we need to consolidate resources and expertise to make smarter purchases.

We need one entity responsible for creating a simpler and user-friendly universe of government wide IT contracts.  There is just too much unnecessary duplication.

Accomplishing major reform will not be easy. But streamlining our obsolete approach to federal IT needs to be at the heart of our effort to protect taxpayer dollars from further waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.