Federal chief information officers would get authority over their technology budgets under proposed legislation that would dramatically change how government purchases its technology.
The legislation is being proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa, who oversees the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and was one of the harshest critics of the General Services Administration following its conference spending scandal earlier this year.
Issa described the proposed legislation in an editorial for NextGov:
“At a time we are facing record deficits and our national debt has exceeded [our gross domestic product], it has never been more important for government IT acquisition to maximize the American taxpayer’s return on investment, reduce operational risk and provide value to citizens. Yet, because of the antiquated way the government defines its requirements and acquires IT, we are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars each year on failed programs.”
The proposed legislation calls for the creation of a Commodity IT Acquisition Center that would be tasked with overseeing large government-wide information technology contracts. Agencies would be required to consult with the center on most acquisitions more than $500 million.
The center would be housed within a federal agency – instead of being independent – with the Office of Management and Budget selecting the agency with a review every few years. The center would be funded by collecting five percent of fees agencies currently receive for managing several types of government-wide contracts.
“If the Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services departments deal with healthcare IT procurement on a regular basis, why should other agencies not benefit from their expertise?” Issa said. “These [centers] would centralize the knowledge of specialists mitigating the critical shortage of skilled federal IT acquisition staff.”