Senators to introduce IT oversight bill
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said he will pursue IT budget flexibilities
A bipartisan group of Senators plans to introduce a bill soon that will hold federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget accountable to either fix or terminate IT projects that are failing.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced his plan to introduce the Information Technology Investment Act of 2011 at a hearing April 12 of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the ranking member of the subcommittee, supports the legislation.
The hearing was held to examine the Obama administration’s IT reform plan.
The legislation is expected to codify the federal government’s IT Dashboard and TechStat sessions, according to comments made at the hearing. Details on the bill had not been released by the afternoon of April 12.
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Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said at the hearing that he wants to work with Congress to rethink how IT is funded across the government and to consolidate commodity IT spending under department CIOs.
The Veterans Affairs Department CIO has budget authority, for instance, and presents a successful model for other departments.
The IT reform effort began about 124 days ago, and Kundra said that to meet an upcoming six-month deadline, he is focused on three specific areas: working with Congress on budget flexibilities, developing the IT program manager career track and continuing the process of closing 800 data centers by 2015.
He said agencies have already identified 100 data centers that could shut down at the end of this calendar year and added that there is likely to be “robust discussion” when those data centers’ names and locations are made public.
In addition, Kundra said that at the end of this month the administration would be celebrating IT reform accomplishments at agencies.
Brown asked Kundra if he would remain in his CIO position to see the reform effort to completion.
“I can stay on as long as necessary,” Kundra said, but added that what’s important about the plan is that it is “not dependent on any single individual.”
David Powner, director of IT management at the Government Accountability Office, said during hearing testimony that although the IT reform initiative is encouraging, the accuracy of the IT Dashboard needs to improve and there must be more attention paid to the estimated $20 billion being spent on at-risk IT projects.
Powner’s comments reflected a March 15 GAO report that found the IT Dashboard – a public website intended to improve transparency by tracking IT spending – has flawed data. The report concluded that performance data inaccuracies are attributable to weaknesses in how agencies report data to the dashboard.
Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.