Public Sector Innovation Roundup: Sequestration & IT Acquisition Reform

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Pushes IT Acquisition Reform: The big news this week was the hearing held in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Chairman Issa’s IT acquisition reform legislation, known as FITARA. The bill, which was released in draft form to the public last fall, seeks to empower CIOs, improve the overall speed and agility of the acquisition process, and reduce wasteful IT spending, is expected to be formally introduced before Congress goes home for its Spring Recess in about three weeks. Chairman Issa acknowledged that his committee has received comments from more than 20 organizations on the specifics of the bill and that his staff is working to amend the bill to address many of the concerns industry has raised. The hearing itself focused a good deal of attention on the need for a better trained and equipped acquisition workforce, another area addressed in the bill, as well as the need to shift attention away from IT as a capital expense and toward IT as an operating expense. We will continue to track the development of this bill closely and look forward to the next iteration. The hearing received a good deal of press attention, including this summary from FCW.

Sequestration’s Impact on Federal IT: With sequestration now just hours away, Jason Miller from Federal News Radio interviewed Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel on the potential impact of sequestration on federal IT. The long and short of it is that we know federal IT will be impacted, but unlike the programs themselves where they are expected to take an across the board cut, IT by its nature is woven into the fabric of these programs, not a program itself, so its impact is uncertain. This according to the interview is creating a confidence problem for IT. New investments will also be put on hold. Read the article and listen to the interview from Federal News Radio here.

Sequestration’s Impact Going Forward: In addition to the automatic cuts associated with the sequester that occur March 1st at 11:59pm, there is another looming funding crisis in the federal government – the expiring Continuing Resolution for FY 2013. The CR officially expires on March 27th so Congressional leaders will have to find a way to address this situation as well. Word from Capitol Hill this week is that the House Appropriations Committee is preparing a rest of the year Continuing Resolution at post-sequester levels, meaning much of the spending included in this bill would be rolled back to pre-2008 levels, the last year of the George W. Bush Administration. GovExec has more.

Michael Hettinger is VP for the Public Sector Innovation Group (PSIG) at SIIA. Follow his PSIG tweets at @SIIAPSIG. Sign up for the Public Sector Innovation Roundup email newsletter  for weekly updates.

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