Senator Tom Udall Welcomes Passage of Bill to Begin Reform of Federal Information Technology Systems

Udall authored reform legislation to improve how citizens interact with government, save billions of taxpayers’ dollars, increase transparency in IT purchasing

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, today announced that a bill he has helped champion in Congress, to begin needed reforms of federal information technology (IT) purchasing and management, has passed Congress as a part of major defense legislation.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) passed last week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). FITARA is designed to improve the way citizens interact with the federal government, save billions of taxpayers’ dollars, and increase transparency in IT purchasing. The legislation includes major elements of a bill Udall introduced with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the Federal Information Technology Savings, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2013. The bill is set to be signed into law by the president.

The federal government spends approximately $80 billion annually on IT, yet those investments continue to underperform, often incurring considerable cost overruns and delays. FITARA will improve how the federal government acquires, implements and manages its information technology investments by giving agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs) more authority over the budget, governance, and personnel processes for agency Information Technology investments, and by improving transparency and review processes of agency IT investments.

“The number one way most Americans interact with the federal government is online, but our purchasing and management systems date back to the days of floppy disks and telephone modems, and it’s wasting billions of taxpayer dollars a year,” Udall said. “These reforms are badly needed to encourage innovation, save New Mexico taxpayers’ money and help avoid IT failures like the initial rollout of the healthcare.gov website. I’m proud of the meaningful bipartisan work that went into this critical legislation, and I will continue to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push for the updates and investments needed to provide best service we can for the taxpayers.”

FITARA enhances agency CIOs’ authorities and strengthens key initiatives proposed in the administration’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management. Highlights include:

-More authority for chief information officers over the budget, governance and personnel processes for agency IT investments.

-Increased transparency for IT investments and a requirement that agencies review troubled investments.

-The bill directs the development of an enhanced government-wide software purchasing program that agencies may use to lower acquisition and management costs.

-Mandatory annual reviews all of agency IT investments to eliminate duplication and waste.

-Consolidates over 9,000 federal data centers.