Davis readies IT agenda

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) has a full agenda as the new chairman of the House Government Reform Committee and high expectations from the high-tech community to bring change to the evolving world of procurement reform.

Davis, known as one of Congress' information technology procurement experts, has taken over the committee at a time when it has oversight over two new laws — the E-Government Act of 2002 and the Federal Information Security Management Act, which was folded into the E-Gov law.

Davis got his tenure off to a busy start. He has already asked the General Accounting Office to examine the Bush administration's e-government projects and assess whether agencies are taking them seriously. And he plans to scrutinize how the laws are implemented governmentwide.

"You can pass all the laws you want, but the culture doesn't change in some of these agencies," Davis told Federal Computer Week.

At the top of Davis's to-do list is helping government get the best services and value. But he is also intent on bringing even more reform to procurement policy.

"Much of our information technology stuff is so stovepiped," Davis said. "It needs to be changed."

Davis said he intended to build on the legacy of the reform measures already passed by the committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, which he chaired in the last Congress.

"We need to closely monitor large- dollar federal contracts to make sure we're getting what we want how we want it and maximizing the taxpayer's dollar," he said.

Davis plans to focus on acquisition reform, including reintroducing the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), which would allow the government to pay for contracts with savings realized by efficiently managing them.

The high-tech community applauded his new role and said he would enhance opportunities to make real change in procurement regulations.

His new job "almost certainly means that there will be a SARA bill that passes the House," reforming how the government acquires services, said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

"Tom Davis is the most knowledgeable member of Congress about procurement and IT issues," said Steve Kelman, Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator during the Clinton administration and an FCW contributor. "And he has been a great supporter of an innovative, less bureaucratic procurement system."

Davis said he intends to make sure that modernization is not just an excuse to spend money on high-tech gadgets.

"Some of the modernization programs are going well, [and] some of them aren't," Davis said. "That's where the decision is going to be made if they are still stovepipes. It is not acceptable in this day and age."

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