House revives IT reform bill with a few changes

Monday - 2/24/2014, 4:21am EST

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Federal technology and acquisition reform is back on the table, at least in the House.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a new version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) as part of the House's "Stop Government Abuse" week.

The House passed the act Tuesday afternoon.

"The legislation will streamline and strengthen the federal IT acquisition process and promote the adoption of best practices from the technology community," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a press release.

The House first passed FITARA last session as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. But the final version of the NDAA left out changes to how agencies would manage and oversee technology.

This version of FITARA is mostly the same but includes two major changes.

The first, according to a committee spokeswoman and industry sources, will pilot an interagency collaboration center for three years to improve project management efforts.

The initial version of FITARA would have established the center permanently.

The goal of the center and the related Acquisition Centers of Excellence is for them to serve as a focal point for coordinated program management practices and to develop and maintain requirements for the acquisition of IT infrastructure and applications commonly used by agencies.

The second major change is around the different hiring processes the Defense Department and civilian agencies follow when hiring chief information officers.

The committee spokeswoman said beyond those two changes, the bill remains mostly the same around consolidating and expanding CIO authorities, closing data centers, addressing workforce challenges and improving oversight and management of technology.

"Provisions in the bill around CIO authorities or data center consolidation and some IT hiring provisions are areas that industry has come together on," said Mike Hettinger, senior vice president for public sector at TechAmerica. "Other things in there, like IT collaboration center and acquisition centers of excellence, we still have some concerns about. The changes they've made in draft that I've seen have helped improve it."

It's unclear how much support there is for FITARA in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jerry Moran (R- Kan.) introduced their version of FITARA in December, and it was referred to the committee.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced last week that starting Feb. 24, lawmakers would bring 12 bills aimed at holding agencies more accountable to the floor for debate and vote.

Cantor said in a statement part of the effort will be to "increase transparency and accountability in spending of taxpayer dollars and the impact of federal mandates."

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Connolly also are working on another IT reform bill. The Reforming Federal Procurement of IT (RFP-IT) Act would take another tact to improve federal IT acquisition.

Along with FITARA, the House plans to debate and vote on:

  • Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2013 (H.R. 899), sponsored Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), would improve the quality of deliberations with Congress and enhance the ability of Congress to identify federal mandates that may impose undue harm on others.

  • Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014 (H.R. 3865), sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), would require the IRS to continue to follow the standards and definitions in effect on Jan. 1, 2010, for determining whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status as an organization operated exclusively for social welfare to apply to such determinations after enactment of this act.

  • Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013 (H.R. 2122), sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlate (R-Va.), would require the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to determine if a proposed major rule or guidance would impose an annual cost of $100 million or more on the economy, result in major costs or prices increases, significantly impact competition, productivity or innovation and whether it impacts multiple sectors of the economy.

  • Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013 (H.R. 1493), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), would change how the public and state and local governments seek federal action on a regulatory rule if it would affect the rights of private citizens or other governments.

  • Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 2542), sponsored by Rep. Spence Bachus (R-Ala.), would amend the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 to revise the definition of "rule" under such act to exclude a rule of particular (and not general) applicability relating to rates, wages and other financial indicators, and to define "economic impact" with respect to a proposed or final rule as any direct economic effect on small entities from such rule and any indirect economic effect on small entities that is reasonably foreseeable and that results from such rule.