Indie CIOs fall under FITARA's scope

Shutterstock image: vector of managerial skills utilized throughout a project.

Nestled deep inside the General Government section of the fiscal 2016 omnibus appropriations law is a provision extending the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act's CIO budget authorities to all executive branch agencies, but the expansion does not seem to be making waves -- yet.

"Shouldn't CIOs already be doing this sort of thing?" asked Brett Bobley, CIO at the National Endowment for the Humanities. NEH is one of the independent executive branch agencies affected by Section 624 of the omnibus law.

"It's great that this extends FITARA to independent agencies," said a federal CIO at an agency that might be affected by the omnibus provision and therefore asked not to be identified. "It's important for CIOs in any organization, public or private, to build good relationships with their stakeholders as well as their financial, procurement and [human resources leaders] to help deliver results for the good of everyone."

Despite the sweeping nature of the provision's language, FITARA's IT procurement management guidelines will not be implemented in the intelligence community.

"The intel community is not 'independent agencies,'" said Karen Evans, former administrator of e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget and now director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge. Intelligence agencies "are considered national security. So if you look at the law, the national security provision is still intact."

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that intelligence agencies would not be affected by the omnibus provision.

It is unclear whether other agencies will be exempt from FITARA. For instance, officials at the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Trade Commission were unable to say how the law might affect them.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it would defer to OMB, but it is unlikely that the bureau's operations would change because the provision applies to agencies funded by the omnibus spending bill and CFPB's funding comes through Federal Reserve transfers.

Officials at the National Endowment for the Arts also said they would await guidance from OMB before making any changes.

"If OMB promulgates specific guidance related to this section, we will endeavor to follow it," an NEA spokesman said. "While the NEA is not and has never been subject to FITARA, the requirements of Section 624 in the recent spending bill track our current organizational practices related to information technology."

Farm Credit Administration CIO Jerry Golley echoed that sentiment.

"I don't know if we're mandated to, but we definitely follow [FITARA]," he told FCW. "The CIO is definitely involved in budgeting decisions."

Whether guidance will be coming from OMB remains to be seen; OMB spokesmen were unable to provide any clarity on the provision.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

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


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