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Lawmakers urge increase IT consolidation, sharing

Feb. 27, 2013 - 02:49PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

Agencies should do more to consolidate and share information technology and save billions of dollars in the process, a key lawmaker says.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said at a hearing Wednesday that agencies cannot continue to spend scarce resources on projects that are nearly identical to projects at dozens of other agencies.

“We have created a system where everybody has a little pot of money,” he said. “Consolidating resources and expertise makes for better purchases.”

Issa said he will release within a few weeks a new version his draft legislation — called the Federal information Technology Acquisition Reform Act — that will incorporate feedback from agencies and industry.

The draft legislation would consolidate IT contracting into a few “centers of excellence” that would encourage more multiagency bulk purchasing — known as strategic sourcing.

Richard Spires, chief information officer at the Department of Homeland Security, agreed with that approach and said agencies could save up to 30 percent by coordinating the purchase and development of IT systems and by standardizing the contracting process.

He recommended the government establish an IT strategic sourcing initiative that would identify programs that agencies could purchase together.

“We need to and we can manage IT spending more effectively,” Spires said.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ranking member on the House subcommittee that oversees federal IT issues, said each agency should have one person with budget authority over IT spending.

He described the IT procurement process as cumbersome, bureaucratic, wasteful and in need of reform and streamlining.

“When it comes to the management of federal IT, we can and must do better,” Connolly said.

Cristina Chaplain, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office, said in written testimony that strategic sourcing could save billions of dollars in IT spending.

Agencies spend billions of dollars on similar programs. For example, 27 major agencies planned to spend $2.7 billion on 580 separate financial management systems in 2011, she said.

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