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Draft Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act Seeks to Realize Billions in Savings in Federal IT Buys

Fall 2012

Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform (OGR) Committee, has released his draft of The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. The draft bill, circulated in September 2012, follows hearings held by OGR earlier this year. OGR is seeking input on the bill over the next few months and intends to hold further hearings in early 2013.

The genesis of the legislation is a need for cost savings. Rep. Issa believes that there are billions of dollars in potential savings to be realized with respect to federal IT expenditures. Some additional background information on Rep. Issa's reasoning behind the draft bill can be found at the OGR website at http://oversight.house.gov/itreform/.

The legislation has four parts. Title I focuses on the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). It limits each agency to one CIO (with all other current CIOs redesignated as deputies) and further increases the budgetary and personnel authority of the agency CIO. Title II addresses consolidation and optimization of government data centers, government website transparency and consolidation, cloud computing and its potential benefits and streamlining of Government-wide multi-agency contracts. Title IV identifies “additional reforms” such as maximizing the benefit of strategic sourcing and promoting Government-wide support of use and development of open-source software.

Title III contains what may become the most controversial elements of the legislation. It establishes a “center of excellence” (Federal Commodity IT Acquisition Center (Center)), the purpose of which would be to serve as a “focal point for coordinated acquisition practices and to obtain lowest costs for the Government in the acquisition of commodity IT through” elimination of redundancies; aggregation of agency demands; development of Government-wide IT acquisition capabilities in partnership with agencies with specialized expertise; pursuit of innovative acquisition strategies; and; application of Government-wide use and license rights. The full scope and operation of the Center (which would be seated at an agency appointed by OMB, which appointment would be renewed or changed every five years) would be determined by OMB in consultation with the Center. “Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence” would also be appointed by the Center for specific types of IT acquisitions.

The creation of a central IT acquisition authority is reminiscent of the Brooks Act. Establishment of the “Center” will no doubt raise private sector and government agency concerns regarding agency acquisition flexibility and the potential for slowness and complexity in the procurement process. The specifics of the Center's authority and its attendant new acquisition procedures, however, are not presently known. Also, the draft bill does not presently cover all DoD IT expenditures; however, it is our understanding that the goal is to cover all DoD IT expenditures with this legislation.

This draft bill has a long way to go; however, comments at this stage should be submitted to the OGR Committee by the end of this year.