House Passes FITARA Enhancement Act

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Washington, October 11, 2017 | comments

Today, the House passed Congressman Gerry Connolly’s FITARA Enhancement Act by a vote of 418-0. The legislation, cosponsored by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), would extend key provisions of FITARA that were set to expire. Companion legislation has been introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Connolly’s legislation would extend three expiring provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition and Reform Act:
• Federal data center consolidation
• Transparency and risk management of major IT systems
• IT portfolio, program, and resource reviews

“We are committed to the successful implementation and oversight of FITARA,” said Congressman Connolly. “Previous major IT reform efforts have fallen short of their potential because of a lack of congressional oversight. I will not let that happen with FITARA.”

“In working with GAO and OMB on FITARA implementation, we have found that there are areas of FITARA that would benefit from an extension of their original sunset date,” Connolly said. “These areas include the provisions on federal data center consolidation, transparency and risk management of major IT systems, and IT portfolio, program, and resource reviews.”

“Very simply, the federal data center problem is bigger than we initially thought. In 2009, the government estimated it had roughly 1,100 data centers. In reality, by 2015 we found we had more than 11,700,” Connolly said. “We are potentially leaving money on the table when it comes to data center consolidation if we allow FITARA’s data center reporting and planning requirements to expire in 2018.”

“We need to let agencies know that they are not going to be able to run out the clock on FITARA’s transparency and reporting requirements. A limited extension of the data center provisions of FITARA, scheduled to sunset October 1, 2018, will help us do that.”

“Additionally, the IT Dashboard and PortfolioStat provisions of FITARA have allowed OMB to evaluate the efficiencies and risk of IT investments and would benefit from a permanent extension of the current December 1, 2019 sunset. These are valuable oversight tools, and we should continue to use them to reform federal IT procurement."

Connolly's full floor remarks follow:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act that Rep. Darrell Issa and I worked to enact nearly three years ago, represented the first major reform of the laws governing federal IT procurement and management since the seminal Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. FITARA is a framework for IT procurement that ensures the federal government is making smart and effective investments to modernize federal IT.

FITARA has seven pillars:

The first is enhancing Chief Information Officer (CIO) authorities to ensure CIOs are engaged in all aspects of agency IT decision making and held accountable for incremental development and accountability.

Second, it enhances transparency and improves risk management by requiring detailed information on investments to be published on the IT dashboard and for CIOs to categorize those investments by risk. It also requires a review of projects identified as high risk – to stop throwing good money after bad.

Third, we increased the frequency of Portfolio reviews from annual to quarterly and included key decision makers from the agency and OMB to not only look for ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness, but also identify potential waste and duplication.

Fourth, we built on the federal data center consolidation initiative to push agencies to realize savings from this low-hanging fruit.

Our fifth pillar was people. Recognizing that federal IT success is only as good as the people behind it, FITARA calls for expanding the training and use of the IT acquisition workforce.

Sixth, FITARA seeks to maximize new tools like the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, taking a page from the private sector to reduce duplicative spending on common purchases and requiring a comparison for purchases that deviate from this strategy.

And finally, FITARA advances a government software purchasing program to allow for purchasing licensing agreements that can be made available for use by all federal agencies.

FITARA is a rubric for IT procurement that hopefully someday enables initiatives like the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act to build our success of improving how the government acquires and modernizes its IT.

When I meet with stakeholders in federal IT from government agencies and industry, I am constantly reminded why previous major IT reform efforts have fallen short of their potential – the lack of a robust implementation plan and congressional oversight. In working with my colleagues on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to oversee implementation of FITARA, we have found that there are areas of FITARA that would benefit from an extension of their original sunset date. The FITARA Enhancement Act would do just that, extending three expiring provisions of the original Federal Information Technology Acquisition and Reform Act.

The Data Consolidation and Optimization Initiative would be extended for another two years while the IT Dashboard and Portfolio Stat provisions would be extended permanently. Extending the data center consolidation initiative (DCOI) is especially crucial given the amount of money agencies can save when they close or consolidate their data centers. As GAO has stated, we are potentially leaving money on the table when it comes to data center consolidation if we relax FITARA’s data center reporting and planning requirements. According to the IT Dashboard, OMB has set a goal of closing 4,477 data centers by the end of FY2018.

With a little bit over a year left, only 2,926 data centers have been closed. Only three agencies have met their OMB established goals for data center closures.Even more concerning, GAO reported that as of April 2017 17 of the 22 agencies were not planning to meet their OMB targets by September 30, 2018. Until agencies improve their optimization progress, OMB’s $2.7 billion initiative-wide cost savings goal may not be achievable.

Passage of the FITARA Enhancement Act sends a message to agencies that Congress is committed to the successful implementation and oversight of FITARA, and agencies will not be allowed to run out the clock on FITARA’s strict data center consolidation and reporting requirements.

The federal government invests roughly $100 billion in IT each year. I look forward to continued bipartisan collaboration on FITARA implementation to ensure these federal IT investments are efficient, effective, and in the best interest of the taxpayer."


FITARA Extension Background
Three provisions of FITARA are set to expire in 2018 and 2019.
1. IT Dashboard
OMB and agencies are to make publicly available detailed information on federal IT investments, and agency CIOs are to categorize IT investments by risk. Additionally, if major IT investments are rated as high risk for 4 consecutive quarters, the agencies are to conduct a review of the investment.

2. PortfolioStat
Agencies are to annually review IT investment portfolios in order to, among other things, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and identify potential waste and duplication. OMB is required to develop standardized performance metrics, to include cost savings, and to submit quarterly reports to Congress on cost savings.

3. Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCCI)
Agencies are required to provide OMB with a data center inventory, a strategy for consolidating and optimizing the data centers (to include planned cost savings), and quarterly updates on progress made. OMB is required to develop a goal of how much is to be saved through this initiative, and report on progress annually.
GAO Reporting Requirements: GAO is required to report on the information provided to OMB on data center consolidation.


FITARA Extension Changes
1. REMOVE SUNSET: Section 832 of Public Law 113-291 (44 U.S.C. 3601): IT Dashboard
Scheduled to sunset on December 1, 2019.
Will be made permanent.

2. REMOVE SUNSET: Section 833 of Public Law 113-291 (44 U.S.C. 3601): PortfolioStat
Scheduled to sunset on December 1, 2019.
Will be made permanent.

3. AMEND SUNSET:
Section 834 of Public Law 113-291 (44 U.S.C. 3601): Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCCI)
Scheduled to sunset on October 1, 2018.
Will be extended to sunset on October 1, 2020.
INCLUDES: Section 834 (b)(4) of Public Law 113-291 (44 U.S.C. 3601): GAO Reporting requirements
Scheduled to sunset on October 1, 2018.
Will be extended to sunset on October 1, 2020.

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