CIO overhaul: Issa plan would reinvent how IT is managed

Nicole Blake Johnson | Federal Times | December 10, 2012
An ambitious plan is emerging in Congress that, if approved, would represent the most sweeping overhaul of the way agencies buy and manage information technology since the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act, which created chief information officers at all agencies. At its center is a redefinition of what is a federal CIO: The proposal by House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would reduce the number of CIOs in government — to one per agency — and empower those remaining with more authority to decide how their departments’ IT dollars are spent.

“The Clinger[-Cohen] Act … needs an overhaul for one most important reason, and that is: If you authorize CIOs, then by definition, the term should mean something,” Issa said at a Dec. 3 industry event. “When you have hundreds of them for 24 major agencies, you really don’t have chiefs. And that’s the most important thing that this bill is intended to do is to redefine the term ‘chief’ to mean the chief. … There has to be one responsible individual who then holds their staff at all levels, regardless of their titles and their paygrades, responsible. We really don’t have that in the federal government.”

The plan is outlined in a draft bill called the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act that Issa circulated to industry groups for feedback. Issa has not said when he will introduce the bill, but industry groups expect it will be next year. Other proposed reforms in the package include:

• Encouraging more use of open-source software...