Bill tackles procurement, workforce

A new bill from the House Government Reform Committee tackles several problems federal agencies face regarding the acquisition and management of information technology.

The Federal Information Technology Workforce and Acquisition Improvement Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), committee chairman, would extend a pilot program allowing agencies to use simplified acquisition procedures for smaller IT purchases.

A General Accounting Office review of the pilot program last year found no evidence that the simplified procedures saved the government any time or money. But the five-year extension "is especially important in the wake of Sept. 11," when agencies showed the usefulness of those procedures by quickly buying equipment to replace items damaged at the Pentagon, according to a statement from Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee and the other co-sponsor on the new bill.

The bill would also prohibit agencies from blocking telecommuting by federal contractors, and it advances the Digital Tech Corps Act that Davis introduced in the summer of 2001. The tech corps would be an exchange program for federal and industry IT managers, designed to encourage the spread of best practices between the two sectors.

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), a strong voice regarding federal workforce issues, introduced a Senate version of the Digital Tech Corps bill in February after a request from Davis to help get the legislation moving after it stalled in the House last year.

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