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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ISSA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My amendment is not controversial, but it's critical. At a time when over $80 billion is spent and over 10 percent of it goes completely wasted on information technology purchases by the government, there has never been a more important time to update the legendary, historic Clinger-Cohen Act. That Act in 1996 was attached to the NDAA, exactly as this one is, and it created the positions of Chief Information Officers to oversee IT management.

1996 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.

So as we modernize this act, I would ask to both have it considered as important, but also have it recognized as critically necessary.

One of the most important things and something that makes common sense to the people who may hear this today or read it in the transcript is that we have more chief information officers today than we have departments, and all but one have no budget authority.

This legislation, when enacted, will eliminate that. It will eliminate duplicative IT purchases that give us overruns of as much as 20 percent in our purchasing of licenses, but it also will put real meaning behind the term ``chief information officer.'' 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 a program goes awry, it's his or her job to make it right.

Once again, I urge support for a bill that was considered, numerous hearings were held, and it was passed unanimously out of my committee.

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My amendment is a modified version of a bill reported from my committee unanimously in March. It reforms--Government-wide--the process by which federal information technology is acquired.

It is particularly fitting that this reform be included in the defense authorization bill. First, because majority of the Government's annual $80 billion in federal IT purchases is defense-related. Second, because this reform is a major update to a federal IT law originally enacted as part of a defense authorization bill--the Fiscal Year 1996 National Defense Authorization Act.

The 1996 NDAA included the Information Technology Management Reform Act--popularly known as Clinger-Cohen Act. It changed the way the federal government managed its IT resources--for instance by creating agency Chief Information Officers to oversee IT management.

Upon the introduction of this historic legislation, Chairman Clinger said,

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``From the time the Second Continental Congress established a Commissary General in 1775, the procurement system has commanded the attention of both public officials and the American taxpayer. Unfortunately and all too often, the attention has focused on individual abuses rather than the overall system. Over the years, in response to these horror stories, Congress passed many laws--long and short, significant and trivial, new and old which standing alone were not overly harmful, but when added together created an increasingly overburdened mass of statutory requirements.

In December 1994, a report prepared for the Secretary of Defense found that, on average, the Government pays an additional 18 percent on what it buys solely because of the requirements it imposes on its contractors. This confirmed the average estimate by major contractors surveyed by GAO that the additional costs incurred in selling to the Government are about 19 percent. While some of the Government's unique requirements certainly are needed, we clearly are paying an enormous premium for them--billions of dollars annually.

And this is only part of the Government's inflated cost of doing business--for it includes only what is paid to contractors, not the cost of the Government's own administrative system. The Government's contracting officials are confronted with numerous mandates of their own, often amounting to step-by-step prescriptions that increase staff and equipment needs, and leave little room for the exercise of business judgment, initiative, and creativity.''

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Many of his sentiments are still applicable today. Since the mid-Nineties, technology has leaped forward, and the federal government's spending on IT procurement has tripled. So my amendment--the Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act--updates Clinger-Cohen, with an emphasis on reforming the way the federal government purchases IT products and services.

GAO has identified duplicative IT investment as a problem in its annual reports to Congress on duplication. IT acquisition program failure rates and cost overruns are between 72 and 80%. Some estimate as much as $20 billion is wasted annually in this area.

We need to enhance the best value to the taxpayer by aligning the cumbersome federal acquisition process to major trends in the IT industry.

This amendment accomplishes this by empowering agency CIO's with budget authority over IT programs. It establishes centers of excellence in specific areas of IT procurement to develop expertise and leverage the Government's economy of scale in purchasing commonly-used IT products and services, so that agencies buy cheaper, faster and smarter. It accelerates consolidation and optimization of the Federal Government's proliferating data centers. 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.

A discussion draft of the FITARA bill was posted last September. I held two full 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. I urge all members to support this amendment.


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