IT bill would hold CIOs accountable, step up oversight

Senators say bill 'has the potential to save billions of taxpayer dollars'

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has introduced legislation that would require agency CIOs to review an IT project if it deviates 20 percent or more from its baseline cost estimate and would codify the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal IT Dashboard.

Carper introduced the Information Technology Investment Management Act of 2011 (S.801 [PDF]) the evening of April 12. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Carper announced the legislation during a hearing earlier that day on the Obama administration’s 25-point IT reform plan.


Related stories:

Senators to introduce IT oversight bill 

GAO official calls for stronger IT spending oversight


Carper said the bill is a response to a series of hearings he has held over the past three years that examined federal agencies’ management of costly, high-risk IT projects. One example was the malfunctioning of handheld data collection devices used by 2010 census workers that resulted in an addition $1 billion in costs.

“It’s clear that federal agencies are dropping the ball when it comes to deploying the right technology in a timely and cost-effective manner,” Carper said. “This legislation will provide the planning and oversight needed to reduce waste and improve the federal government’s information technology operations.”

The bill would call on agencies to develop IT management and development programs to prevent projects from getting off track and would greatly step up congressional oversight of IT.

For example, if an IT project deviated 40 percent or more from its baseline cost estimate, the federal CIO would be required to review it. After the review, OMB would have to provide Congress with the results of the review, including the major problems faced by the project, how they would be fixed and who is accountable to make sure that happened.

Agencies would also be asked to identify “core” projects that are crucial because of their cost, mission criticality or risk and submit additional planning information to the IT Dashboard for those projects. 

And, if an agency failed to submit information to the dashboard or conduct timely reviews, additional funds would not be appropriated to support expenses associated with the project under the new legislation.
 
Collins said the legislation would deal with “previous IT project failures by requiring more standardization, greater transparency, and increased metric inputs to keep projects as close as possible to their initial cost, schedule and performance goals.”

In addition, the bill would allow OMB to release guidance on providing cash bonuses and other incentives to recognize excellent performance by government employees in the acquisition of information systems and IT.
 
At the hearing on the administration’s reform effort, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said he also hopes to work with Congress on greater budget flexibilities and to consolidate commodity IT spending under department CIOs.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Thu, Apr 14, 2011 rfdrick

As a former private sector Project Manager and a current Fed employee, this is good news if ahered to. The Feds need to employ Earned Value Management (EVM) as part of the project process and know when to say "this ain't workin', shut 'er down".

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group