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FCW : May 15, 2013
May 15, 2013 FCW.COM 23 House Republicans have released a compilation of their committees' plans to review executive branch operations during the current session of Congress. Much of the 244-page report, which seeks to oversee the oversight, is legislative boilerplate of conventional inquiries. But the report also offers a useful insider look at some lawmakers' planned investigations and assertion of committee prerogatives. IT appears prominently in the oversight plans of several House committees. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee said it is "critically important" to control federal contract spending, including "exorbitant" costs for support services and IT systems. Other committees issued more targeted plans. At the Homeland Security Committee, new Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the panel "will review the [Homeland Security] Department's efforts to address information technology challenges, including the management and integration of the department's IT systems. " The Armed Services Committee's plan underscored budget pressures, including deep cuts from sequestration, and said the panel will continue to review the Pentagon's IT spending "to reduce unwarranted duplication and eliminate programs of little value to the war ghter. " And the Science and Technology Committee complained about continuing security threats to IT systems while previous oversight recommendations have gone unaddressed. Other committees used this year's report to emphasize their legislative interests. Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee described plans for multiple hearings with Obama administration of cials to discuss tax reform, which is that panel's chief priority in the new Congress. The committee also intends to explore the delivery of health services, reimbursement under Medicare and job requirements for welfare recipients. Plans for the Appropriations Committee were far less speci c. The panel did little more than list House rules and generic oversight responsibilities and stated its strong commitment to "stringent and comprehensive oversight of federal discretionary spending to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being invested wisely and prudently on behalf of the American people. " Because of "the nation's nancial crisis, Congress must go further in exercising oversight than ever before, " according to the committee. It used virtually identical language in its report two years ago. The Agriculture Committee listed more than 100 topics that it plans to review, including the de nition of "rural" under rural development programs and the Food and Drug Administration's recent egg safety rule. As did other House panels, members of the Financial Services Committee said they "will consult, as appropriate, with other committees of the House that may share jurisdiction" on issues that they plan to investigate. The committee reports, which were compiled and issued by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on March 25, are required by a rule the House adopted in 1971 that sought to make committees more responsive to House members and leaders. The Senate has no companion set of committee reports. With Democrats in control of that chamber, its oversight of the administration would likely be more limited than the House's in any case. --- Richard E. Cohen up the chairmanship of the Transporta- tion and Infrastructure Committee. He continues to serve on that committee, where he provides leadership in setting broader infrastructure policy. In the 112th Congress, the trans- portation committee took aim at the General Services Administration s mis- management of empty buildings and unused property. "We discovered a million square feet of unused warehouse space sitting in a prime location in Spring eld, mostly used for storage," Mica said. "It s just one example of having an incredibly valuable asset and not using it to its maximum potential." Most members of the public are unaware of the extent of government waste and inef ciency, whether it is unused real estate or redundant IT sys- tems, Mica said. "Empty buildings are things people can understand, but IT is a little bit tougher," he said. "Issues like that, you try to bring to light. You put the focus and attention on the agencies and their mismanagement." So far this year, Issa has handled most IT issues at the full committee level, including federal IT investment strategy reform, the Government Accountability Of ce s high-risk list and government transparency efforts. But Mica s subcommittee has jurisdic- tion over most non-workforce matters of concern to federal IT executives, and he said his panel intends to focus on data center consolidation and gen- eral government waste. "More than a third of $80 billion goes to support obsolete or sometimes redundant IT systems," he said. "We re also looking at how we can change the acquisition process and the operations, and institute some ef ciencies and bet- ter utilization of assets." For Mica, that often means outsourc- ing to the private sector, and he said IT is an area in which that approach warrants further exploration. "We have very hard, tangible evi- dence of the government s inability to control and manage spending," Mica said. "Should the government be buy- ing equipment? Should the government even be operating that equipment?... I think a lot of that could be more ef - ciently undertaken by the private sec- tor, and that s something I intend to look at --- getting [government] out of the acquisition process of computer systems." --- Camille Tuutti House shares plans for executive branch investigations
April 30, 2013
May 30, 2013