Procurement Reform

FITARA could pass as part of Defense bill

US Capitol

The House of Representatives could vote on sweeping changes to how government agencies buy technology products and services as part of a Defense authorization bill now moving through the legislature.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act has been offered as a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 (HR 1960) by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior Democrat on the panel and a longtime champion of IT and federal workforce issues. The Rules Committee will decide whether or not to add the amendment to the package, and then members will get a chance to debate and vote on amendments. The whole measure could be voted on in the House on June 14.

FITARA has had some significant tweaks since it was passed by the Oversight Committee in March. Language that may have muddled the proscribed authority of agency-wide chief information officers to hire IT personnel -- including associate CIOs for bureaus -- has been removed.

A provision designed to eliminate software resellers and integrators from government-wide contract vehicles has been struck from the legislation. Agencies would not have authority to reinvest savings from data center optimization under the revised bill -- that money will be subject to appropriations. And FITARA no longer expresses a preference for open source software, a change that was sought by many in the software industry.

If FITARA does pass as part of the Defense bill, it will be in good company: The Clinger Cohen Act of 1995, which established the position of federal CIO, became law as part of a National Defense Authorization Act.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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