The Florida Republican and former Transportation and Infrastructure chairman now heads House Oversight's Government Operations Subcommittee, where federal IT is very much on the agenda.
Rep. John Mica brings private-sector insight to his work in Congress.
Who: Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 to represent Florida's 7th Congressional District. Prior to his congressional career, Mica spearheaded several business ventures involving real estate, communications, and international trade consulting and governmental affairs firms. Although he has a degree in education -- and is married to former public-school teacher Patricia -- business has been the backbone of his professional career. "I never used it," he said, referring to his education schooling, "other than in the first year in school when you have an internship you have to do."
Why he matters: Mica's committee is charged with eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government – issues he says keep him up at night. "Coming from a business background, it drives me nuts when government can't get it straight and right for the taxpayers," Mica said. Although his last six years as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee centered on transportation issues, Mica says his attention has been on government reform "since my first day." The Oversight and Government Reform Committee's 2013 hearings so far have included federal IT investment strategy reform, the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list and government transparency efforts.
Past performance: Mica's work in the 112th Congress focused on underused public assets, empty government buildings and the misuse of taxpayer dollars. Under his chairmanship, 55 bills were passed under the committee's jurisdiction in the House -- 30 became law. The measures included a long-stalled U.S. aviation legislation aimed at speeding up the overhaul of an aging air traffic system, and implementation of a Coast Guard reauthorization bill, which had provisions to decrease regulatory burdens on the transportation sector. As for his defining moment in his career, Mica pointed to running for a congressional seat and winning during a redistricting 20 years ago. "I've been through three redistrictings, and the last one was quite the challenge," he said. "I had a primary challenge, which I haven't had since the beginning. But we did pretty good – it was wasn't quite 1:2 [ratio] but 62-38."
Upcoming work: Among other issues, Mica's committee is "probably" turning its crosshairs to federal IT issues such as data center consolidation and overall waste and inefficiencies. "More than a third of $80 billion goes to support obsolete or sometimes redundant IT systems," he said. "We're also looking at how we can change the acquisition process and the operations, and institute some efficiencies and better utilization of assets. And that's just the beginning." Mica said he believes many Americans have little awareness of the huge scope of waste and inefficiency occurring in government. "We're in a period of sequestration, budget cutbacks, huge and ballooning federal debt, and we're seeing money being wasted, assets sitting idle - it's very frustrating," he said. "If you're spending $80 billion on IT, and wasting more than a third on it, that's real dollars."