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House passes bill to strengthen CIO authority, reform IT

House passes bill to strengthen CIO authority, reform IT

Jun. 14, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
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House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The House on Friday passed legislation that would overhaul how agencies manage their information technology dollars and require that each agency have only one chief information officer.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was passed as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill is similar to the version passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March and would mark the biggest overhaul to federal IT since the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act, which created CIOs at federal agencies.

“We have more chief information officers today than we have departments, and all but one have no budget authority,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Friday on the House floor. “This legislation, when enacted, will eliminate that.”

The bill would:

■ Require agencies name one CIO who reports directly to the head of the agency and has the authority to make decisions about IT programs and programs with major IT components.

■ Create a center within the Office of Management and Budget to provide program and technical expertise to help agencies meet common IT requirements and increase the use of shared services.

■ Designate centers of excellence within select agencies that would provide specialized acquisition expertise. OMB would designate the centers within one year and decide whether to reauthorize them every three years.

■ Establish a specialized career path for IT program managers.

■ Require agencies to consolidate data centers and track energy, personnel, real estate and maintenance savings. The bill would also create a working capitol fund agencies could use to fund transitions to a cloud environment.

Although the Senate has not introduced similar legislation, many lawmakers with jurisdiction over IT operations agree that CIOs should have greater authority to oversee their agencies’ IT budgets.

“You’re well intentioned, but we’ve got to give people the authority to do what we ask them to do,” Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told federal CIO Steven VanRoekel at Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing this week.

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