Public Sector Innovation Roundup

IT Acquisition Reform Update:
Last week, I reported that there was expected to be some progress on IT acquisition reform when the Senate returned from its recess, with at least three pending amendments seeking to address the issue. This week, it looks like that has been put on hold as the Senate now looks to consider a “compromise” defense authorization bill that was negotiated between the House and Senate which they will try to move through the House this week and the Senate next week, without amendment. The base text, according to the House Armed Services Committee Summary does not include any language addressing IT acquisition reform. FITARA or parts of it could potentially move as stand-alone legislation next year, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). FCW has a story with the latest.

Ryan, Murray Reach Budget Framework Agreement:
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled a bipartisan budget agreement on Tuesday that would roll back $63 billion of the sequester cuts (split between defense and non-defense programs), reduce the deficit by approximately $23 billion and fund the government for the next two fiscal years at slightly over $1 trillion each year. The bill, if approved by the House and Senate, would eliminate the possibility of a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires in January and provides a level of funding certainty that hasn’t been seen in Washington for a number of years. The deal does not raise the debt ceiling, which Congress will have to address by early February. Politico has a report.

Interior Shifts CIO Responsibilities, Consolidates IT:
Three years ago, the Department of Interior, began the transformation of their CIO operations, including a structural change establishing a single Chief Information Officer for the entire Department, while retitling bureau level CIOs as Assistant Directors for Information Resources (ADIRs). Since that process began, Interior has consolidated 55 data centers, combined 14 email systems into one and moved a host of other applications and systems to the cloud.FedNewsRadio reports on the progress Interior has made.

White House Unveils New Open Government Framework:
On December 5th the White House released the second and latest U.S. Open Government National Action Plan. The new policy aims to build upon prior efforts to create a more open, efficient and effective government, leveraging technology to achieve this goal. Among the highlights of the latest policy is a plan to consolidate FOIA requests across government and making government spending data available in machine-readable formats, leveraging USAspending.gov. The FOIA plans are interesting in that they will only be consolidated at the front end, and the requests themselves will still be routed to the relevant agency for review and approval. FCW covers it here.

DOE to Move 6,000 More to Google Apps:
The Department of Energy announced last week that they plan to move 6,000 more employees to Google Apps for Government cloud email and collaboration. The move comes after 5,000 DOE employees at the Idaho National Lab moved to Google last year with the expectation of consolidation, efficiency and cost-reduction. Unisys has the contract for the transition, which includes integration of the department’s mobile users. GCN 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.

SIIA Op/Ed: Federal Financial Management and Freedom of Choice

In a Federal Computer Week Op/Ed today, SIIA’s Mike Hettinger explains why freedom of choice is important for federal agencies when determining how to best fulfill their financial management needs. Under a recently announced initiative, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Treasury plan to assign all agencies to an existing federal shared service provider (FSSP), but Hettinger argues that the biggest agencies are too large and complex to move their financial systems to an FSSP, adding that the cost of migration would far outweigh any projected cost savings. Hettinger says:

Consolidation is a noble goal but not when it flies in the face of efficiency and rationality. The administration needs to wake up to the fact that an agency like DHS, with a $40 billion budget and 22 component agencies, is already operating at such a large and complex scale that moving it to a new FSSP would be an unwieldy, expensive mess.

Instead, he recommends officials first determine whether there is any evidence that they are currently wasting significant money on their financial management systems, second ensure there is private sector involvement in the process, and lastly make sure Federal agencies have freedom to assess their own financial management needs and choose the financial management solution that works best for them.

Learn more about SIIA’s public sector advocacy, or attend our Public Sector Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C on February 13, 2014.


Laura Greenback is Communications Director at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Public Policy Team at @SIIAPolicy

Public Sector Innovation Roundup

Is momentum building for IT acquisition reform?
With the Senate poised to return to work next week on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 and the President declaring that as a result of the Healthcare.gov deployment issues, IT acquisition reform needs to be a priority, there seems to be some momentum for Rep. Issa’s Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), but what’s the path forward? FITARA was included in the House-passed NDAA but there still seems to be some opposition in the Senate. Expect an amendment to add to the full text of FITARA, and one to add just the data center consolidation and/or CIO authority sections from the House passed bill. Which will be agreed to and which will be dismissed remains up in the air, as does the overall path forward for the NDAA as there are a number of issues that held it up before the Thanksgiving Holiday that have yet to be resolved. Here’s an earlier story from FedNewsRadio.

Congress looks for budget deal in advance of January 15th deadline:
With the January 15th deadline approaching and fear of another government shutdown on the minds of many in DC, Congress has been working to try and come up with a short term funding solution. On the table right now is whether or not Congress should fund operations for the rest of the fiscal year above the sequester level, with many believing that the cuts to some areas, including defense, are just too severe. No deal yet, but discussions between Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan are continuing. The latest news being that some conservatives in the House of Representatives are pushing for a clean continuing resolution at the current sequester levels. Politico has the latest here and here.

FedRAMP announces 27th accredited 3PAO:
The FedRAMP program announced this week that it had approved the 27th third party assessment organization or 3PAO. The newest 3PAO is Leidos Accredited Testing and Evaluation Labs (AT&E) and they are now available to work with cloud service providers who are ready to go through the FedRAMP process. To date, 12 CSPs have received authorization either through FedRAMP or via an agency to provide cloud services to the Federal government. See the full list of FedRAMP accredited 3PAOs and other information on the FedRAMP program here.

DOD issues new acquisition guidelines:
DOD Undersecretary of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall released a memo this week updating DOD’s acquisition guidance, last revised in 2008. The updated guidance seeks to streamline the Pentagon’s buying processes, while issuing more readable and user friendly standards. DOD underlying acquisition guidance remains intact. The revised guidance is viewed as interim and will be formalized over the next six months. FCW covers it here.

DOD to undergo major realignment:
The Department of Defense is also embarking on a major realignment, expecting to cut nearly 20 percent of its workforce by 2019, resulting in about $1 billion in savings. Under the plan, which includes significant realigning of personnel and resources, the Office of the CIO would be strengthened to be better able to deal with emerging information technology and cyber security challenges. FCW has a good report.


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.

Public Sector Innovation Roundup

Senate to consider Defense Authorization Bill:
The US Senate is expected to take up the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197) this week. While it’s still up in the air how the bill will move forward, there is the possibility that there will be a number of federal IT acquisition related amendments. Senators Udall (D-NM) and Moran (R-KS) have filed an amendment to essentially add the CIO authority provisions of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) to the NDAA and Senator Bennet (D-CO) has one adding the data center efficiency and consolidation provisions. A broader amendment, incorporating the entire text of FITARA as passed by the House in their version of the NDAA may be offered by Senator Shaheen (D-NH). Given the number of amendments and the potential controversy around some it is expected that consideration may drag on past the Thanksgiving holiday so stay tuned. FCW has a report.

House Passes DATA Act:
As we reported last week, there’s some movement on the DATA Act, Rep. Issa’s legislation designed to improve the transparency of federal spending. Last week the Senate passed the bill out of committee and this week the House passed it on the floor by a vote of 388-1. The bill will now await full Senate action and then the two chambers will have to conference to work out the handful of differences between the two versions. FCW has been following the bill’sprogress.

OMB issues new continuous monitoring requirements, sets 2017 deadline:
On Monday, OMB issued an update to its 2012 continuous monitoring guidelines, giving agencies specific deadlines they must meet to comply with new IT security standards. The new guidelines require agencies to fully comply with what’s now being called information security continuous monitoring (ISCM) by 2017. ISCM is the new term for what was continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM) previously. According to the memo agencies are required to come up with a strategy for complying with ISCM by February 28th. FedNewsRadio has thescoop and you can see the full OMB memo here.

GSA looking to bring Microsoft under FSSI:
According to an exclusive article by FedNewsRadio, GSA has put out an RFQ asking Schedule 70 vendors who resell Microsoft products to bid on a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) for a host of Microsoft products and services including systems, applications, servers, and software. GSA plans to put the BPA into the Smartbuy Program. The goal is to reduce the overall cost of ownership of Microsoft products and services by reducing pricing, optimizing terms and conditions and improving license management. GSA expects multiple awards with 5 year contracts carrying a total potential value of $5.3 billion. Bids are due December 18th.


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.

SIIA Applauds Sens. Udall and Moran’s Effort to Advance Federal IT Acquisition Reform

SIIA today expressed support for an amendment to the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that supports federal IT reform and expands the authority of federal CIOs.

SIIA continues to push for comprehensive federal IT reform, and this amendment, which was introduced by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), is a positive step forward. With an estimated $20 billion of the federal government’s $80 billion IT budget potentially being spent on innovative IT services, we have to get this right. Effective reform must include new and innovative ways to acquire these services, so that we reduce time to market and maximize value. SIIA looks forward to working with Sens. Udall and Moran to enact meaningful changes that will make federal IT acquisition more efficient and effective.

SIIA sent Senators Udall and Moran a letter of support for the amendment, which would add an important provision to the underlying legislation regarding the authority of federal agency Chief Information Officers over the IT investment practices at the largest federal civilian agencies. It requires a direct reporting link to the agency head and expands the role of the federal CIO Council.


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.

Driving Government Innovation – Leveraging Technology to Change the Federal Government

SIIA partnered with Government Transformation Initiative Monday to host Driving Government Innovation at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Representatives from both government and industry were present to discuss longstanding problems and solutions to government IT, exemplified by the flawed rollout of Healthcare.gov.

The event featured opening remarks from Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who spoke about roadblocks to modernizing federal IT. He said Healthcare.gov is just one example of a failed government IT system, and said that the government IT procurement process is broken.

“We’ve endlessly relied on hardware to bail us out of bad process,” Issa said. “I’m worried we’re spending $1 billion to get mediocre results.” He advocated for wide-reaching changes to IT acquisition reform, called for increased budget control for federal CIOs, and pushed for the passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) and the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).

Mike Hettinger, VP of the Public Sector Innovation Group (PSIG) at SIIA, led an industry panel following Issa’s remarks. The panel featured four speakers, all respected government IT experts and PSIG members: Doug Bourgeois of VMware, Mark Forman of Government Transaction Services, John Landwehr of Adobe, and Dan Chenok of IBM.

When asked who should take responsibility for innovation in government, Forman noted that innovation may not be the correct way of looking at the missing puzzle piece in government IT. “I look at this as a government reform issue,” Forman said. Every agency has people with the ideas already in place, he said, and in many cases, leadership is blocking innovation.

On the problems surrounding Healthcare.gov, Bourgeois said, “Personally, I don’t think there’s a lesson here we haven’t already learned more than once. It’s disheartening. The procurement process itself is fundamentally flawed.” He said that government should stop taking a one size fits all approach to its contractors’ IT expertise. “There are great resources out there, but not all contractors have the same expertise.”

Chenok pointed out how much the government can learn from the private sector. Landwehr pointed out that enacting more rapid milestones is likely the best way to continually update federal IT, much like apps on smart phones or tablets. He also noted that the government is already starting to make better use of web analytics and qualitative feedback, like comments on websites, in order to get better feedback on its services.

Wrapping the panel up, the panelists were asked about what technologies will drive government innovation over the next 5 years. Their predictions were:  1) Data Analytics, 2) Authentication and a move to a thin client environment, 3) Network Virtualization, 4) Healthcare Analytics, and 5) Apps, Apps and Apps.

The event was part of a broader effort by SIIA to interact and communicate with policymakers on issues of importance to the information technology community.


Sabrina Eyob is communications and public policy intern at SIIA. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied Comparative Cultures and Politics, and International Relations.

Public Sector Innovation Roundup

Healthcare.gov still driving debate on government procurement: The Healthcare.gov debate played out over a nearly 6 hour hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this week and while much of the questioning was of a political nature, questions remain over how the federal government’s acquisition processes may have played a role in the failures. Last week, President Obama said we needed to reassess federal IT acquisition and Congress has been debating the same for most of this year. The question now is will this debate fuel the fire for changes to the acquisition process to make it simpler with the hope of drawing new players to the government market or will it just be another blip on the screen. Politico has been covering the debate.

CBO Scores FITARA at $145 million: Speaking of IT acquisition reform, the Congressional Budget Office released its cost to implement on the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act championed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) this week. The score of $145 million over 5 years is primarily due to the $80 million cost of implementing the IT Acquisition Management Improvement Fund and $50 million for Administrative Provisions related to the legislation. See the full CBO report here.

Obamacare enrolls 106K in first month: And speaking of Obamacare, the Administration revealed the first enrollment numbers for the program, beginning with the October 1st launch through November 2nd, showing that just over 106,000 people had enrolled in the program. About a quarter of those came through the federal Healthcare.gov process and the other three-quarters via the state exchanges. Obviously the enrollment numbers are far below what the administration had hope for and show the challenges that lie ahead for the program and the administration as they look to not only revamp the website but increase enrollment in this program. The Washington Post has more.

New Jersey’s Frelinghuysen to Chair Defense Appropriations Subcommittee: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen was chosen this week as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense (HAC-D), taking over for Rep. Bill Young who passed away earlier this month. Frelinghuysen has been on the Subcommittee since 1999 and most recently served as the panel’s Vice Chair. The HAC-D is one of the most powerful committees in the Congress and will be a boon to military facilities and defense companies who call New Jersey home. Breaking Defense has the story.

DATA Act, Data Center Consolidation move through Senate committee: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee moved two important pieces of legislation out last week, the DATA Act and the Federal Data Center Consolidation Act. Both now await floor action in the Senate. If passed in both the House and Senate, the DATA Act will have to reconcile language around the use of analytics by Inspectors General as it is a costly provision and a potential sticking point. The Data Center Consolidation bill, while not passed stand-alone in the House, has much of it included in the FITARA provisions included in the House-passed 2014 NDAA. FCW 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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