House-Passed IT Reform Bill Expands Single CIO Mandate to DoD

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Susan Walsh/AP

The revised bill also pares back a proposal for a governmentwide contract consulting center.

The version of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act that passed the House on Tuesday contains a handful of revisions from the version passed out of committee in 2013.

Most importantly, the law’s mandate that all agencies employ a single official with the title chief information officer and the authority to manage that agency’s IT budget has been expanded to include the Defense Department, which was previously exempted.

The revised bill also pares back a proposal for a governmentwide collaboration center that would assist agencies with especially complicated technology contracts. Under the House-passed legislation the center would only be funded as a three-year pilot.

The law also clarifies that agencies aren’t required to consult with the collaboration center or with separate agency-based centers with expertise in a particular type of technology contract if they don’t want to.

Changes to the bill were made on a bipartisan basis by the IT Reform Act’s Republican and Democratic cosponsors and aimed at raising the likelihood the bill would pass both the House and the Senate, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said while introducing the bill on Tuesday.

Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who is ranking member on the committee’s government operations panel.  

The Senate version of the reform act, known as the Federal Information Technology Savings, Accountability, and Transparency Act, is awaiting action in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

That 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.

Auditors’ reports have routinely shown a large portion of the government’s $80 billion annual IT bill is lost to bureaucratic inefficiency. Congressional interest in addressing the problem spiked significantly, though, after the high profile failures of, the Obama administration’s federal health insurance marketplace, during its first two months online.

The Senate legislation 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.

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