ELC attendees split on FITARA

pen and contract

As the 2013 Executive Leadership Conference wrapped up with an industry-government working group session, one question put to the participants was on the expected impact of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.  

The legislation, which the House passed as part of the defense authorization bill in June, would establish a single, presidentially appointed CIO for each agency, and consolidate IT budget authority in that office. Given the choice of four different likely outcomes, roughly 250 members of the federal IT community voted two answers into a dead heat at the top.

In a real-time, unscientific survey of participants, 38 percent predicted FITARA would help by "enforcing standardization and ensuring oversight of commodity IT." An identical percentage, however, worried that the result would be "adding a level of complexity that makes it difficult for agency components to do their job." 

(Improving on the Clinger-Cohen Act's technology investment provisions and creating clear technology frameworks ran a distant third and fourth.)

A divided house? Or a comment on the tradeoffs inherent in any big policy shift? That question, alas was left for next year's ELC.

Note: This article was corrected on Oct. 30.  FITARA, as passed by the House, calls for agency CIOs to be presidential appointments, but not Senate-confirmed positions as this piece originally stated. 

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of, Schneider also helped launch the political site in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times,, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


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