House restores CIO authority

An appropriations bill passed Tuesday by the House would ensure that the chief information officer of the Agriculture Department would retain budget authority for technology-related spending.

Technically, the CIO – a position currently held by Dave Combs -- never lost his budget power. But the Bush administration’s 2007 budget proposal included language that implied that USDA employees would be required to notify the CIO of IT purchases, but not get approval.

The budget proposal states, “None of the funds…may be used to acquire new information technology systems or significant upgrades, as determined by the Office of the Chief Information Officer, without the notification of the Chief Information Officer.”

Office of Management and Budget officials in a February budget briefing called the CIO’s new wording in the proposal an “errata,” or an error.

The House Appropriations Committee fixed the wording to say that funds cannot be used “without the approval of the Chief Information Officer,” returning power back to the CIO.

The House passed H.R. 5384, the Fiscal 2007 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, late Tuesday by a vote of 378-46. The bill will be sent the Senate for further consideration.

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