Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) co-sponsored FITARA. (Getty Images/File)
The House has passed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, a bipartisan bill that makes perhaps the most significant changes to the federal IT procurement system since the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996.
The legislation was sponsored by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
Among the bill’s provisions are measures to strengthen the position of the agency CIO, a role that was created by the 1996 law.
“There are more than 250 identified CIOs in the federal government, yet none possess the necessary authority to effectively manage IT investments,” Connolly said. “This has resulted in duplicative and wasteful IT spending, with taxpayers forced to foot the bill for massive IT program failures that ring up staggeringly high costs, but exhibit astonishingly poor performance.”
The government spends more than $80 billion annually on IT products and services, yet federal managers report that 47 percent of their IT budgets go to maintaining antiquated platforms, Connolly said.
The legislation first passed the House in 2013 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but FITARA and many other provisions were stripped from it in the Senate. A bipartisan group of senators have introduced legislation similar to FITARA, according to a statement from Connolly’s office.
The bill’s various section titles illustrate its breadth:
Title 1: Management of information technology within (the) federal government.
Title II: Data center optimization.
Title III: Elimination of duplication and waste in information technology acquisition.
Title IV: Strengthening and streamlining information technology acquisition management practices.
A final section of additional reforms covers transparency and competition in solicitations.
The bill grants the CIO some control over the agency’s IT budget and in IT-related personnel matters, and establishes that the CIO reports directly to the head of the agency.