The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), co-sponsored by Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), will be included in the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). FITARA would improve how the federal government acquires, implements and manages its information technology investments by giving agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs) more authority over the budget, governance, and personnel processes for agency Information Technology investments, and by improving transparency and review processes of agency IT investments.
As the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly pointed out in recent years, the federal government spends approximately $80 billion annually on IT, yet those investments continue to underperform, often incurring considerable cost overruns and delays.
House and Senate leaders made the following statements on the bill’s inclusion into the NDAA:
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Carper: “FITARA is the product of meaningful bipartisan compromise that will help address many of the operational difficulties facing federal IT management today. This piece of legislation empowers agency Chief Information Officers throughout the budget, planning and spending processes, enhances transparency and oversight of agency IT investments, requires federal departments to take an enterprise-wide view of IT programs and investments, and continues the promising work that has been done to right-size agency data centers. These new authorities would transform federal agencies’ ability to reduce waste and increase agency accountability to American taxpayers. I thank the leaders of the Armed Services Committee for including this language in the National Defense Authorization Act and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this critical bill.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman Issa: “Each year, the federal government spends $80 billion on federal IT systems, yet much of that is wasted on cost overruns, long delays and outdated programs. By giving decision makers the ability to make changes appropriate for their agency, we can ensure that the most knowledgeable will now be able to enact solutions that had otherwise plagued their agencies. As technology changes, Chief Information Officers were previously prevented from adopting new technologies, and often the American taxpayer missed out on more cost effective options. FITARA fixes this crisis of leadership and ensures that the contracting standard is modernized to handle a changed tech landscape.”
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Cummings: “This bipartisan legislation will bring much-needed changes to federal information technology purchasing. Enhanced Chief Information Officer authority over agency IT budgets and greater accountability of individual projects will be critical tools to help agencies spend Americans’ tax dollars more effectively.”
House Oversight Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs Ranking Member Connolly: “In the 21st century, effective governance is inextricably linked with how well government leverages technology to serve its citizens,” said Connolly, Ranking Member of the Government Operations Subcommittee. “Yet the federal government remains hamstrung by antiquated laws and bureaucratic cultures that stifle innovation and lead to mission-critical IT failures that waste taxpayer dollars and jeopardize our Nation’s safety, security, and economy. FITARA will be a critical first step towards ending this unacceptable status quo by empowering agency CIOs to champion best practices in IT management, accelerating data center optimization efforts, and prioritizing incremental development for major IT systems.”
FITARA would build on the statutory framework established by the seminal Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 by enhancing agency CIOs’ authorities and strengthening key initiatives proposed in the Administration’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management.
- CIO Authority Enhancements – Give civilian agency CIOs more authority over the budget, governance and personnel processes for agency IT investments. One central CIO in each agency shall approve the appointment of any other component-level CIOs within the agency. This, along with the corresponding empowerment of the CIO in the Department of Defense, would significantly enhance CIO’s role throughout the government.
- Transparency & Risk Management – Make agency IT investments more transparent to the public and require agencies to review troubled investments.
- Government-wide Software Purchasing – Require development of an enhanced government-wide software purchasing program that agencies may use to lower acquisition and management costs.
- Portfolio Review – Require agencies to annually review all of their IT investments to eliminate duplication and waste. For example, in fiscal year 2011 budget submissions, agencies reported 622 separate investments totaling $2.4 billion in human resource management systems, and 580 investments totaling $2.7 billion in financial management systems.
- Data Center Consolidation – Require more than 9,000 federal data centers to be consolidated and optimized to achieve greatest usage, efficiency and cost savings as recommended by GAO.
- Acquisition Workforce – Develop an IT acquisition cadre, including highly-skilled program and project managers.
- Strategic Sourcing – Require proper consideration of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) by contracting personnel to encourage the government to purchase through enterprise-wide contracts that leverage the purchasing power of the entire federal government.