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Government Has Dropped the Ball on IT Reform, Lawmaker says

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. // Carolyn Kaster/AP File Photo

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., lashed out at government technology leaders on Wednesday for being slow to adopt cost-saving reforms laid out early in the Obama administration and for failing to adequately report their progress.

Federal agencies and the White House Office of Management and Budget have been too slow to consolidate data centers and to shift data storage and operations to computer clouds, Connolly told the audience at an event sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“I stand before you today feeling that the federal government has slackened its embrace of the 25-Point Plan laid out by Vivek Kundra,” Connolly said, referring to the 2010 government technology overhaul penned by the former U.S. chief information officer.

Connolly is ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s operations panel, which oversees a large share of federal technology spending.

He criticized officials for failing to meaningfully report on a 25-Point Plan requirement that all agencies move at least three high-priority systems to the cloud by mid-2012. He also faulted OMB for not forcing agencies to report their progress on a separate mandate to consolidate federal data centers and for not appearing at a field hearing on the topic held in his district in May.

The Government Accountability Office testified during that hearing that only five of 24 agencies had reported estimated data center consolidation savings through 2014 and that those savings totaled less than $700 million, far shy of the $3 billion in savings originally promised by 2015.

Connolly also faulted officials for approving less than half a dozen companies so far through the government’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which certifies cloud vendors that are secure enough to provide services to the government.

“I think there’s great hope, there’s great opportunity, but at the moment I think the federal government as an entity has fallen behind on what had been an exciting opportunity to catch up,” Connolly said. “My hope is that as we move forward all of us can try to find ways to encourage and exhort and pressure the federal government to come into the 21st century with management changes and allocation and investment changes that will better serve the country.”

Connolly co-sponsored legislation with House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that would overhaul how the government purchases and manages technology. A version of the bill, known as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, was included as an amendment in the Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House in June.

The White House has not endorsed the measure. 

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