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FCW : January 2016
is the 10-year value of the DHS IT services contract now at the sources-sought stage $1.4 billion At the Transportation Department, the budgetary might of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is in full effect. In December, DOT CIO Richard McKinney issued a memo freezing all IT spending for at least 90 days, or until DOT’s compo- nent agencies give him com- plete spending plans so he — and they — can better manage spending and plan for the future. And depart- ment CTO Maria Roat is actively backing the effort as well. “I’m looking at the department as an enterprise,” Roat said in Decem- ber. She added that some of the goals of the exercise include eliminating stovepipes and creating a more uni- fied and less wasteful approach to IT procurement. “We’ve [already] got one of every- thing,” Roat said. She hopes the plan pushes the department to better use existing assets instead of rushing to buy new toys. “We need to ensure that we’re not chas- ing technology for technol- ogy’s sake, but we’re using what we have.” At a Dec. 16 event host- ed by Nextgov, McKinney said the “pause” could last 120 days. The first of the spending plans hit his desk on Dec. 15. While others have argued for broad- er use of FITARA’s financial power to curb runaway spending, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), one of the law’s authors, offered a cautious endorse- ment of McKinney’s action. Calling the move a “dramatic exam- ple,” Connolly said it would be up to others to determine whether a depart- mentwide spending freeze was techni- cally within the scope of CIO powers granted by FITARA. “I can’t gainsay it. That is kind of where we wanted things to go... [empowering] a CIO where the buck stops,” Connolly added. “[McKinney] was certainly acting in the spirit we intended.” For his part, McKinney couldn’t say whether other agencies ought to fol- low his lead. “I think it was the right thing for DOT,” he said. “It sure elevated the conversation.” — Zach Noble The big IT freeze at DOT January 2016 FCW.COM 7 Richard McKinney By the time this magazine reaches your desk, we’ll be almost exactly one year away from the next presi- dent’s inauguration. Federal IT is not likely to become a hot campaign issue, of course. With the exception of cybersecurity, technology in general is fair- ly far down the list of most White House hopefuls’ poli- cy priorities. Yet the coming months are critical for agency execu- tives and the contractor community. The groundwork laid between now and November will go a long way toward determining how much of this administration’s IT agenda outlasts President Barack Obama. Has FedRAMP hit critical mass, or will 2017 bring a new approach to cloud security? What about shared services? Will the U.S. Digital Service and 18F stick? What will open govern- ment look like under President [insert your hope/fear here]? Will we ever hear of PortfolioStat again? And then there’s FITARA. The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act was not an Obama initiative, but it codifies many of the changes the administra- tion had been pushing. And as we detail in this issue, there’s a sense among CIOs that 2016 is crucial to ensuring that FITARA doesn’t suffer from the half-hearted implementation that crippled the Clinger-Cohen Act 20 years ago. As a participant in a recent round- table discussion hosted by FCW noted, any new administration will keep some initiatives, kill others and reinvent a few simply to claim own- ership. The IT community, he said, must make clear which initiatives must continue, “even if you want to rebrand or change the name.” Another participant stressed that if career executives lay the proper groundwork, they can reassure a new administration that “you can focus on your priorities.... We’ve got the ball” on federal IT. So that’s the goal for 2016, with FITARA and much else: Making sure that, come next January, the federal IT community can honestly say, “Don’t worry — we’ve got this.” — Troy K. Schneider firstname.lastname@example.org @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Taking stock and prepping for next year 0116fcw_003-011.indd 7 1/6/16 2:39 PM
November and December 2015