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OMB: FITARA Guidance Coming This Week

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Attention, agency chief information officers: Guidance for implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is coming by the end of this week, the Office of Management and Budget announced Monday.

The announcement came in a Federal Register notice, which asked for public comment on the forthcoming guidance. (The draft guidance will be posted on CIO.gov)

Congress approved the sweeping federal IT reform legislation last December as part of an annual Defense policy bill. Since being named the federal CIO in February, Tony Scott, a former industry executive, said recently his time has been “consumed” with mapping out the guidelines.

The thrust of the new legislation gives agency CIOs greater power over their agency’s IT purse strings, mandating CIOs have final sign-off on their annual IT budgets and sole final authority to sign IT contract and reprogram IT funds.

In addition, some of the key initiatives the Obama administration has piloted over the past few years to better budget and spend on IT were also codified into law by FITARA. That includes the PortfolioStat process, in which agency CIOs sit down with OMB to go over the performance of their IT investments, and efforts to close and optimize energy-guzzling data centers.

The legislation also clears the way for governmentwide software license purchases. The Government Accountability Office reported earlier this year most agencies lacked comprehensive inventories of their software licenses and were wasting potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on duplicative agreements.

OMB’s draft guidance will spell out particular requirements agencies should follow to fully implement the law.

Some chief financial officers have been quietly grumbling about expanding CIOs’ budget authority, which has traditionally been the purview of agencies’ financial execs. There are also concerns agency CIOs will continue to butt heads with bureau- or component-level CIOs over project funding.

In the Federal Register notice, Scott wrote that the guidance “reflects input from a diverse group of stakeholders,” including government chief financial officers, chief human capital officers, chief acquisition officers and other management executives.

However, speaking at an AFFIRM event in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, Scott agreed there may be some “resistance and rub” toward some of the guidelines. 

The guidance is actually set to be released slightly ahead of schedule. At that same event, Scott initially said he expected the guidance to be issued “closer to mid-May.”

(Image via kangshutters/ Shutterstock.com)

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