Federal IT reform gets green light in the House
Tuesday was a winning day for federal IT reform and the House oversight committee — three pieces of legislation sponsored by committee members passed in the House.
The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., passed as an amendment in the House. FITARA intends to overhaul and streamline the federal IT acquisition process and establish standards that would eliminate waste and reduce duplication in federal IT.
Extracted from the National Defense Authorization Act in November last year, the bill was revived this week with some changes.
The legislation had two major changes: the expanded agency chief information authority it called for now encompasses the Defense Department, and the Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Center would be established as a three-year pilot program, rather than a permanent fixture.
“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.”
Federal IT acquisition came into the spotlight last fall with the flawed rollout of healthcare.gov, garnering attention from President Barack Obama who remarked: “One of the things [the federal government] does not do well is information technology procurement. This is kind of a systematic problem that we have across the board.”
FITARA wasn’t the only win for the House Committee on Government and Oversight on Tuesday, as the House also adopted the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014. The legislation intends to enhance the citizens’ access to federal information by improving how responsive agencies are to FOIA requests.
“Disclosure should be timely, accurate and routine,” Issa said in a statement. “H.R. 1211 enacts commonsense reforms that will reduce the backlog of FOIA requests from federal agencies by strengthening the Office of Government Information Services and creating an online request system.”
In addition, the House passed legislation that will establish further reporting requirements for federal agencies on use of taxpayer funds. The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, sponsored by Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., and reported out of the Oversight and Government Reform committee, was unanimously adopted by the House on Tuesday.