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FCW : July 15, 2015
22 July 15, 2015 FCW.COM IT, but the mission people don’t view them as ‘IT programs.’” The concerns are especially pro- nounced with regard to the super- computing program run by the Energy Department’s national labo- ratories. A policy rider in the Senate appropriations bill that funds DOE would exempt the labs from some of FITARA’s budget and CIO authority provisions. “Our national laboratories are build- ing the fastest research supercom- puters in the world and developing next-generation exascale machines,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Appropriations Com- mittee’s Energy and Water Develop- ment Subcommittee and an advocate for exempting the labs from some FITARA provisions. “One-size-fits-all models don’t work well, and I am concerned that this well-intentioned law could make it more difficult to develop the technol- ogy we need to support the Depart- ment of Energy’s research and nation- al security missions,” he told FCW. FITARA already has exemptions for the intelligence community and certain aspects of IT governance at the Defense Department, which is preparing to adopt a new IT manage- ment strategy in 2017. And the Obama administration does not support an exception for the national labs. Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said that although White House offi- cials were eager to talk with agencies about their concerns, the administra- tion was already on record as oppos- ing the exemption. “It’s our viewpoint that FITARA is a tremendous management tool for Should the national labs be exempt from FITARA? Senate legislation to fund the Ener- gy Department includes a provision that would give DOE’s national labs a broad exemption from legislation that concentrates budget and hir- ing authority with department-level CIOs. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, had inserted a provision exempting all of DOE from the Federal IT Acquisi- tion Reform Act and some aspects of the Clinger-Cohen Act. That pro- vision was changed to apply only to the national labs at the request of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). Udall was an early backer of FIT- ARA and had co-sponsored stand- alone legislation to enhance CIO authorities in 2013. A Udall spokes- person told FCW that the senator remains a supporter of the law, and narrowing the exemption to the national labs was a way to “make sure that as much of the agency was able to implement [FITARA] as possible.” The Obama administration opposes the exemption, and Office of Management and Budget Direc- tor Shaun Donovan described the provision as highly problematic in a June 2 letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). An exemption for the labs would “eliminate the administration’s abil- ity to ensure information technolo- gy resources effectively support the department’s mission by reducing duplicative IT systems, implement- ing a comprehensive cybersecurity solution and addressing other IT management issues that support the president’s goal to deliver a government that is more effective, efficient and accountable,” Donovan wrote. At issue is autonomy for large- scale computing projects at the labs, in particular the supercomput- ing program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The con- flict is not a new one. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office reported that DOE had reclassified supercomputer investments from IT to facilities, which took $368 million in annual spending off the publicly available IT Dashboard. More recently, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) offered two amend- ments to the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that would carve out exemptions for supercomputing and the national labs. However, his amendments were ruled not to be in order and were not voted on in the House. Backers of the carve-out argued in a set of talking points obtained by FCW that FITARA would “cre- ate yet another layer of additional and unnecessary bureaucracy” and would “insert the CIO into the R&D of computer architectures to model and simulate the behavior of a nuclear warhead or the functioning of various types of nuclear reactor cores, areas that are clearly beyond the scope of expertise of CIOs.” That concern would seem not to apply to new DOE CIO Michael Johnson, who previously worked as a computer engineer and intel- Congress COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG 0715fcw_021-023.indd 22 6/23/15 3:44 PM
June 30, 2015
July 30, 2015