House Backs IT Buying Overhaul

Joseph Marks | Nextgov | June 14, 2013

The House on Friday passed a bipartisan plan to overhaul the way the government purchases and manages information technology, as part of a major defense policy bill. House members agreed to add a version of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on a voice vote early Friday and passed the full bill shortly after 1 p.m. The amendment could still be removed in a House-Senate conference committee.

The IT reform act was sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ranking member of the committee’s government operations panel. It would give CIOs authority over all IT spending inside their agencies and create a collection of agency-based Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence that other agencies may consult regarding particular categories of IT purchases.

The bill would also create a Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Collaboration Center under the federal CIO that would serve as a “tiger team” to assist agencies with tricky acquisitions. The IT reform act “will put real meaning behind the term chief information officer,” Issa said on the House floor as the amendment was being discussed. “Never again will someone have that title and have no budget authority or responsibility.”