WASHINGTON – On the first anniversary of the enactment of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called on agencies across the federal government to improve implementation of the landmark information technology (IT) law.
“Congress passed FITARA with the goal of reducing waste in federal information technology (IT) spending and increasing agency accountability to the American taxpayer,” said Sen. Carper. “I am encouraged by the steps that the Office of Management and Budget and some agencies have taken to implement the law. I’ve also heard positive feedback from many federal Chief Information Officers who feel that FITARA has empowered them with the clear authority and guidance they need to do their job. That being said, agencies still have a lot of work to do to realize the law’s full potential. One year into FITARA, agencies across the federal government are still vulnerable to catastrophic IT failures, continue to struggle with tracking and managing data centers, and still fail to purchase software in a cost-effective manner. There is clearly room for improvement. But FITARA set a high bar for improving IT management and was always meant to be a multi-year effort. This first anniversary is a good time for the leadership of agencies to assess how they are meeting the goals of FITARA and redouble their efforts to make real changes in the way the federal government manages its IT.”
As the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly pointed out in recent years, the federal government spends approximately $80 billion annually on IT, yet those investments continue to underperform, often incurring considerable cost overruns and delays.
FITARA works to improve how the federal government acquires, implements, and manages its information technology investments by giving agency Chief Information Officers (CIO) more authority over the budget, governance, and personnel processes for agency information technology investments, and by improving transparency and review processes of agency IT investments. The bipartisan legislation was originally co-sponsored by Sens. Carper and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
FITARA builds on the statutory framework established by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 by enhancing agency CIOs’ authorities and strengthening key IT management initiatives. Specifically, FITARA does the following:
- CIO Authority Enhancements – Gives civilian agency CIOs more authority over the budget, governance and personnel processes for agency IT investments, significantly enhancing CIO’s role throughout the government.
- Transparency & Risk Management – Makes agency IT investments more transparent to the public and requires agencies to review troubled investments.
- Government-wide Software Purchasing – Requires development of an enhanced government-wide software purchasing program that agencies may use to lower acquisition and management costs.
- Portfolio Review – Requires agencies to annually review all of their IT investments to eliminate duplication and waste. For example, in fiscal year 2011 budget submissions, agencies reported 622 separate investments totaling $2.4 billion in human resource management systems and 580 investments totaling $2.7 billion in financial management systems.
- Data Center Consolidation – Requires federal data centers to be consolidated and optimized to achieve greatest usage, efficiency, and cost savings as recommended by GAO.