Senate gets tough on agencies over Clinger-Cohen

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on Monday sent out letters to

24 federal agencies asking them how close they are to compliance with the

Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 and what types of benefits the agencies have seen

from the use of technology.

Chairman Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)

have expressed concern about agencies' progress toward putting in place

the act's provisions, which include new processes for acquiring and managing

information technology. In the four years since the law passed, many IT

programs and acquisitions have failed in one way or another, according to

a release from the committee.

The letters include questions on the range of IT issues addressed in the

Clinger-Cohen Act such as:

* Effective use of agency chief information officers.

* Agency benefits from capital planning and investment control processes.

* Managing IT for overall performance and results.

* Impact on business processes.

* Agency acquisition of information technology.

Thompson and Lieberman cited problems such as the unexpected increase in

the cost of the Justice Department's fingerprint matching system from $470

million to $640 million. The senators also expressed concern about the cancellation

of expensive programs such as the Internal Revenue Service's Tax Systems

Modernization project, on which the agency spent $3.3 billion before abandoning.

The IRS replaced that system with the $5 billion Prime program, which the

agency has just begun developing.

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