Issa, Connolly Urge Members to Support Bipartisan Federal IT Reform Bill

Published: Feb 25, 2014

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly, D-Va., urged members of Congress to support H.R. 1232, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), on which the House will vote today.

From the joint letter sent to members last night:

“The federal government is currently spending in excess of $80 billion dollars for information technology investments, and often we get little back in terms of results.  IT acquisition program failure rates and cost overruns are between 72 percent and 80 percent.  Some estimate as much as $20 billion is wasted annually in this area.  We need to enhance the best value to the taxpayer by adapting the cumbersome federal acquisition process to major trends in the IT industry.

“This legislation achieves reform by empowering agency Chief Information Officers (CIO) with budget authority over IT programs, so there is a central point of accountability.  It establishes centers of excellence in specific areas of IT procurement to develop expertise and leverage the Government’s economy of scale in purchasing commodity-type IT products, so that agencies buy cheaper, faster and smarter.  It accelerates consolidation and optimization of the Federal Government’s proliferating data centers.  It increases the transparency of IT investment scorecards by requiring 80 percent of Government-wide IT spending be covered by a public website called the IT Dashboard.  And it ensures procurement decisions give due consideration to all technologies — including open source — and that contracts are awarded based on best long-term value proposition.”

Following the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov in October 2013, President Obama stated, “One of the things [the federal government] does not do well is information technology procurement.  This is kind of a systematic problem that we have across the board.”

A complete copy of the “Dear Colleague” letter is below.

Dear Colleague:

We are writing today to urge you to support H.R. 1232, the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA, which will be considered by the House on Tuesday.  This bill is a modified version of a previous measure reported from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The House unanimously approved similar legislative language as an amendment to the House-passed version of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.

In light of the well-documented problems with HealthCare.gov, President Barack Obama, on Nov. 14, 2013, stated “One of the things [the federal government] does not do well is information technology procurement.  This is kind of a systematic problem that we have across the board.”

We agree.

Information Technology is a critical force-multiplier enabling and enhancing the timely and effective operation of government.  Capable and well implemented IT systems ensure that the Government can protect and serve the needs of the American people in a cost-effective and innovative fashion.

Yet despite the critical role played by IT in government operations, the Government Accountability Office has identified duplicative IT investments as a problem in its annual reports to Congress on duplication.  The federal government is currently spending in excess of $80 billion dollars for information technology investments, and often we get little back in terms of results.  IT acquisition program failure rates and cost overruns are between 72 percent and 80 percent.  Some estimate as much as $20 billion is wasted annually in this area.  We need to enhance the best value to the taxpayer by adapting the cumbersome federal acquisition process to major trends in the IT industry.

This legislation achieves reform by empowering agency Chief Information Officers (CIO) with budget authority over IT programs, so there is a central point of accountability.  It establishes centers of excellence in specific areas of IT procurement to develop expertise and leverage the Government’s economy of scale in purchasing commodity-type IT products, so that agencies buy cheaper, faster and smarter.  It accelerates consolidation and optimization of the Federal Government’s proliferating data centers.  It increases the transparency of IT investment scorecards by requiring 80 percent of Government-wide IT spending be covered by a public website called the IT Dashboard.  And it ensures procurement decisions give due consideration to all technologies — including open source — and that contracts are awarded based on best long-term value proposition.

The legislation has broad bipartisan and industry support.  A discussion draft of the legislation was posted 18 months ago.  The Oversight and Government Reform Committee has held two committee hearings on the bill, and the language has evolved through the course of several rewrites and extensive feedback from contracting and technology experts from inside and outside Government.  This is a significant and timely reform that will enhance both defense and non-defense procurement.  We urge all members to support HR 1232, otherwise known as FITARA.

 

DARRELL ISSA                            GERRY CONNOLLY

Member of Congress                     Member of Congress