HHS to Testify Before OGR on FITARA

Tomorrow, the Department of Health and Human Services will answer to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is holding the latest hearing on the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).  This hearing will focus on how HHS is measuring up on IT modernization efforts.

FITARA requires that agencies provide the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with "a comprehensive inventory of data centers, a strategy to consolidate and optimize their data centers (including performance metrics, timelines, investment and cost savings plans), and quarterly progress reports on the agency’s strategy."

At an event hosted by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council on December 5th, Rod Turk, outgoing Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, praised the impact FITARA has had, thus far, stating that the increased focus on how resources are used can't be overstated.

“Our goal is to improve the services and capabilities for less money so by sharing that information across the different bureaus, we can make smarter investments,” Turk said. “That is the significant impact from FITARA.”

According to Federal News Network's Jason Miller, Turk said that this year, for the first time ever, he would be able to issue budget formulation guidance to CIOs across Commerce.

“Now that I’m looking at the budget formulation and from our IT investment review for anything above $10 million, the bureau CIOs are reviewing contracts before they get to me so they are having a great impact on our functional investments,” Turk said. “It’s also enhanced the relationships between the bureau CIOs and the functional areas. That is leading to less rogue IT because they have better relationships.”

The hearing will also be notable as it will be among the first major workforce hearings held since the midterm election in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, one of FITARA's main champions, and a favorite for a leading spot on OGR with the shift of party control, spoke about the bill (as well as a related initiative, FEDRamp) on an episode of FEDtalk on Federal News Network earlier this year. 

According to Connolly, FITARA, which results in an annual scorecard providing a grade for each agency on how well they are implementing IT acquisition law, is increasingly important, nearly seven years after its passage. Connolly pointed out that the problems identified under the Obama administration that prompted FITARA ultimately proved to be even worse, upon closer inspection.

“At that point, he identified about 1,600 datacenters throughout the federal government, and he wanted to cut that in half,” Connolly said of Obama’s chief data officer. “But what we discovered was, we didn’t have 1,600 datacenters, we had over 12,000, and until we decided on the scorecard, no progress was made.”

Posted in From the Hill

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