On September 20th, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), released his draft legislation, the “Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.”
This bill is different than most “information technology” legislation, because, if enacted, it has the potential to greatly impact the entire Federal IT sector including government employees and solution developers, service integrators and value added resellers (VARS).
The legislation would essentially condense IT authority under a single agency CIO who would directly report to the Federal CIO. It would remove the multiple CIOs across the many agencies in place today and provide full budget authority to the newly appointed agency CIO. Creating a single CIO at each agency who has control of hiring for all IT related positions has a potentially huge impact on the ability to get projects moving forward.
In addition, it would allow for the execution of the Federal Data Center Consolidation (FDCCI), website consolidation and make it a higher priority for agencies to replace old technology with a new, more energy efficient infrastructures. The proposed legislation also requires the formation of a Federal Commodity IT Acquisition Center, who will create an “IT commodity” definition and a government-wide acquisition strategy for commodity IT.
Lastly, it would remove unnecessary burdens on industry and their interactions with government to create innovative acquisition strategies to overcome vendor monopolies and maximize the use of best practices.
While we feel these are positive steps forward and that the content of this draft legislation can potentially solve many issues, there is one major roadblock. Every agency has realized by now that consolidation is an expensive and complex task. It can definitely save money, but it takes a lot of resources and time to get there. As budget allocations shrink, will agencies be able to afford consolidation?
We hope Representative Issa and the supporters of this bill make the connection between this draft legislation and agencies budgets, or we fear this could be another example of good legislation failing to achieve it’s intended objective.