On Friday, June 14, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa as an amendment to the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The version that passed the House differed slightly from the version passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March. The most notable change included the removal of language requiring OMB to provide government-wide guidance concerning open-source software acquisition, which proprietary vendor associations, in particular, were concerned would create a preference for open-source software. Government contractors, especially those in the IT or cybersecurity sectors, should be aware of this legislation because, if passed by the Senate, it will impact the acquisition process by:
- Requiring agencies to name one Chief Information Officer (“CIO”), who has increased authority over an agency’s IT investment practices, budget and personnel;
- Making the CIOs for the 16 largest agencies presidential appointees or designees;
- Requiring the Federal CIO to develop and implement the Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative, which seeks to optimize the use and efficiency of federal data centers;
- Eliminating duplication and waste in IT acquisition by, among other things, transitioning to cloud computing;
Strengthening and streamlining IT program management practices by
- Establishing a Collaboration Center to promote coordinated program management practices for IT infrastructure and business application acquisition, and
- Designating specialized Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence; and
- Strengthening program and project management performance by requiring the OMB Director to create a specialized career path for IT program managers.
The Senate has not yet held hearings on the bill, but it appears lawmakers agree that CIO authority needs to be expanded. In the interim, it will be important for government contractors to closely monitor these developments and prepare to effectively adapt to any potential future changes.