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FCW : August 30, 2014
Commentary | ALAN P. BALUTIS Before Congress adjourned for the August recess, House GOP leaders were pushing for legislative action on a "big four" list of issues: a vote on the supplemental request to deal with the in ux of unaccompanied minors across our border with Mexico, reform of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, reauthorization of the federal Ter- rorism Risk Insurance Act, and passage of a short-term continu- ing resolution to keep government funded and operating at current lev- els into the new scal year, which starts Oct. 1. Notice what s not on this list? That s right: any mention of acquisi- tion or IT reform. But there might yet be a glimmer of hope. To date, the House has passed seven of the 12 annual appro- priations bills. The House has also passed versions of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) --- twice, in fact. The Democratic-led Senate, meanwhile, has not passed a single appropriations bill, though that count is a tad misleading. The Sen- ate appropriations subcommittees have completed action and voted on a number of funding measures. Senate leaders, however, have not brought those measures to a oor vote for fear that Republicans will attach amendments (e.g., address- ing the Environmental Protection Agency s regulation of coal emis- sions) that will either draw enough Democratic votes to pass or put Democratic senators up for re- election in dif cult positions with their constituents. Still, legislators in both parties and both chambers agree that a stopgap spending bill must hap- pen as soon as lawmakers return to Washington in September. What provides the raw materials for crafting a continuing resolution? The funding levels agreed to last year are critical, of course, but it also helps to have pre-existing legislative vehicles that have previ- ously passed oor votes or have emerged from committee with strong majorities. Most of us are familiar with what is in FITARA, which could qualify. But we should also take a hard look at what is in the Senate s scal 2015 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill and draft report. There are several provisions that would improve how the federal government purchases and uses IT, including funding for the Of ce of Management and Bud- get s efforts to improve the use of IT tools to maximize government effectiveness. Here are some other IT reform highlights: • The bill reaf rms the role of federal CIOs in driving IT savings and ef ciencies within their depart- ments. If passed, the legislation would give CIOs greater control over their agencies spending on so-called commodity IT tools and services, as well as spending on data centers and program manage- ment IT tools. • The bill would strengthen require- ments for the federal IT Dashboard, an online transparency tool, to ensure accuracy and consistency in how agencies disclose their IT spending. • To help avoid large IT develop- ment project failures, the bill would require that OMB identify the 10 highest-priority IT investments under development across federal agencies and report quarterly to Congress on the status of those projects. It also would require quarterly reporting on Defense Department and VA efforts to cre- ate interoperable electronic health records. • The bill would support a pilot project to encourage innovative entities to participate in federal con- tracting through the use of innova- tion set-asides. It is too early to tell, of course, exactly what legislation might move as part of the continuing resolution. But must-pass funding bills have advanced IT reform before, and it s worth watching this year as well. ■ How IT reform could still pass Congress this year There are opportunities for lawmakers to carry IT overhaul measures across the legislative nish line when they return in September Must-pass funding bills have advanced IT reform before, and it's worth watching this year as well. ALAN P. BALUTIS is senior director and distinguished fellow at Cisco Systems. 10 August 30, 2014 FCW.COM
September 15, 2014
August 15, 2014