VanRoekel questions need for FITARA

Despite forward movement in Congress, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said major IT reform can be achieved without legislation.

“We need an approach that encompasses good management, good incentives, works with both the appropriations side, as well as the authorizing side of the work we do and involves all the offices in the C-suite, not just the CIO, to focus on mission outcomes,” VanRoekel said June 19 during an online chat. “I look forward to working with Congress on this very important issue.”

These comments came after an earlier interview with Federal News Radio, which sponsored the chat, during which VanRoekel expressed opposition to the IT Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, which passed the House last month as part of the National Defense Authorization Bill.


“I don’t actually think we necessarily need legislation in this space,” VanRoekel said. “I think the increasing pressure on the role that technology is playing is going to take us — with good management practices [and] with good policy — in the right direction of where we need to go. So I don’t think legislation is necessarily required to get there.”

Recently, VanRoekel and his office have attempted to skirt legislation and tackle IT reform on their own. In May, the federal CIO announced the Smarter IT Delivery Agenda, which focuses on talent inside the government, private sector companies working with government and best practices to make sure individuals can deliver the best results.

PortfolioStat, a tool introduced by the Office of Management and Budget to identify and assess the maturity of agency IT investments and to help them save money with shared services, is helping agencies yield higher capability at a lower cost, VanRoekel said.

“IT in both the private and public sector grew up in a solution-based approach – when you had a need, you built a system to address that need, usually in siloed implementation,” VanRoekel said. “Technology now exists that allows more open sharing of technology – something the private sector has been doing for some time.”

Coming from a background in private sector IT, VanRoekel said he looks to the private sector to provide insight on certain IT topics.


“I actually have a lot of interaction with the private sector and ask for advice from a broad set of stakeholders,” VanRoekel said in the chat. “My first speech was with an industry association in Palo Alto, and along the way have sought the advice of leaders across the tech space, both locally and across the country. It takes a village to move federal IT.”

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