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As OMB takes tough stance on IT projects, contractors call for reforms

Jul. 14, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By TOM SPOTH   |   Comments

Responding to the Obama administration's freeze on billions of dollars worth of information technology projects, a trade association representing IT vendors has said federal procurement rules should be overhauled.

"The administration's recent decision to halt work on financial systems implementations should serve as a wakeup call that IT acquisition reform is overdue," Phil Bond, chairman of the TechAmerica Foundation, said Wednesday in a statement. "Today we are answering that call."

Bond did not outline any specific reforms he thought should be made. But TechAmerica plans to create a new commission called the Commission on Government Technology Opportunity in the 21st Century to recommend reforms in federal IT acquisition and management that it wants to see included in the Obama administration's proposed 2012 budget that comes out in February. The group said it "fully expect[s] the commission's recommendations to carry weight within the administration."

Bond said "outdated, inflexible procurement laws and regulations, and an ill-equipped, overburdened acquisition work force" are at fault for IT project setbacks and failures.

OMB announced June 28 that it would halt spending on all federal financial systems modernization projects, sparking an outcry from vendors concerned about the impact on their work forces and revenue. The administration is reviewing at least 20 financial systems projects and also will take a closer look at other "high risk" IT projects involving more than $10 billion of the government's $80 billion annual IT budget to see if they need to be revamped or canceled.

Administration officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is expected to prepare his own recommendations for IT management and procurement by the end of October.

Yesterday, the Veterans Affairs Department announced it was canceling a $300 million financial systems project called Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise (FLITE) that OMB halted for review.

TechAmerica's panel will be made up of contractor executives and academics and co-chaired by Steve Kelman of Harvard University and Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services.

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