Vendors want input into ITMRA

A coalition of vendors wants to help the Office of Management and Budget develop new policies to carry out the Information Technology Management Reform Act.

The Industry Coalition on Information Technology (ICIT), composed of five IT trade associations, wrote to OMB deputy director for management John Koskinen late last month, saying vendors should have input into the development of an IT investment management model and the identification of acquisition pilot programs.

"They really ought to include industry or at least give industry an opportunity to present some views," said Ella Schiralli, co-chairwoman of ICIT and director of government relations for the Electronic Industries Association.

Ken Salaets, director of government relations for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), said that even though the law mostly governs how agencies manage procurements internally, "it could have a significant impact in terms of the buying philosophy within the agencies" that would, in turn, affect how vendors compete for contracts.

How much influence the industry might have on ITMRA-related policies is unclear. The law takes effect Aug. 8, and OMB is expected to issue new regulations this month. One industry source said vendors may be too late to have their recommendations considered completely.

The June 27 letter criticizes ITMRA, saying aspects of the statute are unclear. For example, it says the law does not make clear how industry will obtain information about agency acquisition plans and funding levels.

In addition, the letter states, a part of the law that promotes modular procurements "does not recognize the variety of approaches that may be used for the best interest of the government." The vendors said they fear agencies will interpret a preference in the law for building systems incrementally as a requirement. Vendors want new regulations to make clear that different acquisition strategies are appropriate for different types of systems.

Steven Kelman, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, had the opposite view. He said he is concerned that agencies will not adopt modular contracting techniques because Congress did not accept the administration's proposal last year to allow limited competition for the later phases of a procurement.

"My worry is [that] despite any hortatory language in regulation or statute, we will continue not to do enough modular contracting because, unfortunately, Congress didn't give us the tools to make modular contracting a more viable alternative," he said.

Concerning the selection of acquisition pilot programs, Kelman said OFPP plans to involve vendors but has not determined exactly how they will participate.

The government has already sought input from the private sector, through the Industry Advisory Council, as to the best way to define the role of chief information officers and develop new investment management practices.

ICIT also recommended that when the General Services Administration enables on-line ordering from the multiple-award schedules, it not require vendors to provide any more data about their products than they usually provide to commercial customers. But the group said vendors want to be allowed to offer supplemental information if they choose, such as links to World Wide Web pages.

ICIT members include EIA, ITI, the Information Technology Association of America, the National Security Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council.


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