Procurement Reform

FITARA could pass as part of Defense bill

US Capitol

The House of Representatives could vote on sweeping changes to how government agencies buy technology products and services as part of a Defense authorization bill now moving through the legislature.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act has been offered as a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 (HR 1960) by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior Democrat on the panel and a longtime champion of IT and federal workforce issues. The Rules Committee will decide whether or not to add the amendment to the package, and then members will get a chance to debate and vote on amendments. The whole measure could be voted on in the House on June 14.

FITARA has had some significant tweaks since it was passed by the Oversight Committee in March. Language that may have muddled the proscribed authority of agency-wide chief information officers to hire IT personnel -- including associate CIOs for bureaus -- has been removed.

A provision designed to eliminate software resellers and integrators from government-wide contract vehicles has been struck from the legislation. Agencies would not have authority to reinvest savings from data center optimization under the revised bill -- that money will be subject to appropriations. And FITARA no longer expresses a preference for open source software, a change that was sought by many in the software industry.

If FITARA does pass as part of the Defense bill, it will be in good company: The Clinger Cohen Act of 1995, which established the position of federal CIO, became law as part of a National Defense Authorization Act.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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