Today, legislation designed to overhaul the federal government's broken system for purchasing information technology was passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, adopted into the NDAA on a unanimous voice vote, is similar to H.R. 1232, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was unanimously approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this year.
FITARA reforms the procurement management process the Government uses to purchase the software, hardware and services classified as information technology. The legislation updates the Clinger-Cohen Act, which was itself adopted as part of the 1996 defense authorization bill.
"At a time when over $80 billion is spent and over 10 percent of it goes completely wasted there's never been a more important time to update the legendary, historic Clinger-Cohen Act," amendment sponsor and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel lssa, R-Calif., said in remarks on the floor. "Nineteen-ninety-six was a time in which you could still have an IBM AT 286 computer on your desk. The idea of cloud servers didn't exist, and the size and scope and dependency on the cyber-environment was never even anticipated."
The legislation streamlines and enhances the authority of agency Chief Information Officers created by the 1996 bill. "It also will put real meaning behind the term Chief Information Officer," Issa continued. "Never again will someone have that title and have no budget authority or responsibility. When a program goes right, the Chief Information Officer is responsible. When the program goes awry, it's his or her job to make it right."
If enacted FITARA will --
- Require there be one central Chief Information Officer (CIO) in each agency and provides that CIO enhanced budget and personnel-related authority over IT investments agency-wide, fulfilling the vision of the Clinger-Cohen Act.
- Require more than 6,000 federal data centers be consolidated and optimized to achieve greatest usage, efficiency, and cost savings as recommended by GAO.
- Eliminate wasteful duplication in IT assets, processes, and contracts -- a problem GAO has highlighted -- by requiring an inventory of IT assets and OFPP (OMB) approval of potentially duplicative new Government-wide contracts.
- Establish a center within OMB to serve as a focal point for the program and technical expertise necessary to assist agencies in meeting commonly-needed IT requirements and to promote shared services. 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.
- Provide for designated centers of excellence within the Government to promote expedient, best value procurements; to enable agencies to leverage acquisition expertise/resources they do not alone possess; and to aggregate demand.
- Rebuild the specialized IT acquisition workforce and creates a specialized career path for IT program managers.
- 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.
- Increase the transparency of IT investments scorecards by requiring 80 percent of Government-wide IT spending be covered by the IT Dashboard.
- Require the Government to purchase IT products and services in an unbiased, technology-neutral manner, with the goal of attaining best long-term value.