Federal IT procurement reform unlikely to pass this year
Despite progress, some experts doubt a federal IT procurement overhaul is going to pass this year.
Federal News Radio states separate versions of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act are working their way through both houses of Congress. The House version of the bill, which has already passed, would require many federal agencies to have a stronger chief information officer appointed by the president.
Other aspects of the bill include:
*Requiring the federal government to consolidate and optimize its data centers.
*Encouraging the adoption of cloud computing.
*The creation of a Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Collaboration Center to develop and maintain requirements for acquiring IT infrastructure and applications. This would include compiling a price list and catalogue for them.
*Requiring the final negotiated price offered by an awardee of a blanket purchase agreement be treated as public information.
*The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) make available the cost, schedule and performance data of at least 80 percent of government-wide IT investments. Waivers in the case of national security are permitted.
A similar Senate bill introduced in late December 2013 would require the same — with the notable exceptions of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill would also require the OMB to make available to the public cost, schedule and performance data for at least 80 percent of all IT investments in each federal agency subject to the bill. However, the director or CIO can determine if this would not be in the interests of national security.
However, IT Alliance for the Public Sector Senior Vice President for Public Sector Trey Hodgkins doubts the bills will pass this year. One reason is lack of time — lawmakers will be in D.C. for two weeks in September but will return to their districts to campaign for the November mid-term elections by early to mid-October. There is a lame-duck session in December, but the focus will be on the legislation deemed most important, like a continuing resolution to keep the government funded or the defense budget. The other reason Hodgkins cited is the difficulty of coming up with a solution that is satisfactory to the differing Congressional committees involved.
“There are some conversations going on,” Hodgkins said for Federal News Radio. “They are trying to resolve it.”
He said the most viable path forward for IT reform is in the defense budget, which includes the creation of an undersecretary for management for both the CIO and deputy chief management officer. As it would apply to the Department of Defense only, Hodgkins says there’s less for lawmakers to object to.