recommended reading

IT Reform Bill Passes House

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. // Lauren Victoria Burke/AP File Photo

The largest reform in a decade to how the government builds and buys information technology systems passed the House on a voice vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Similar legislation is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act would limit each federal agency to one person with the title chief information officer and give that person authority over the agency’s IT spending.

It would also create centers of excellence across government to assist with complicated IT acquisitions and require the government to publicly post performance metrics on a much greater percentage of its IT projects.

The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., was bolstered by congressional and public ire at the poor performance of, the Obama administration’s online health insurance marketplace, which was largely unusable during its first two months online.

Issa and Connolly stressed, though, that the bill is aimed at fixing a more systemic failure in federal IT contracting, which has led many projects to run over-budget and past deadline and often to work poorly once they are delivered.

Auditors estimate that a large percent of the government’s $80 billion annual IT budget is lost to such inefficiencies.

“This bill isn’t about one failure; it’s about a governmentwide, longstanding failure that predates this administration,” Issa said.

“Would that the rollout of the health care website was a unique incident,” Connolly said. “It unfortunately characterizes most major federal IT procurement rollouts… In recent decades taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for massive IT program failures that ring up staggeringly high costs but exhibit astonishingly poor performance.”

The Senate version of the IT Reform bill would also mandate a single CIO for each federal agency but it would only give those CIOs budget authority for commercial, off-the-shelf items and require that they play a major role in budget decisions about other IT purchases. Those differences will have to be ironed out in a House-Senate conference if the Senate bill is passed.

That bill, known as the Federal Information Technology Savings, Accountability, and Transparency Act, is sponsored by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb. It was introduced in December, about two months after the launch.

The Senate bill would also give CIOs hiring authority for agency staff with IT responsibilities and require that those staffers report to the CIO to the extent the CIO deems sufficient. That bill is awaiting action in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The White House has avoided public comment on the bill, though federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel has said giving agency CIOs budget authority is less important than giving them “a seat at the table” when major decisions are being made.

Get the Nextgov iPhone app to keep up with government technology news.

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Spear-phishing

Researchers: Bank-Targeting Malware Sales Rise in Dark Web Markets

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.