Updated FITARA Legislation Strengthens Some Proposed Reforms and Waters Down Others

Published: March 20, 2013

Acquisition ReformCloud ComputingOMBPolicy and LegislationShared ServicesStrategic Sourcing

The updated Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), first proposed by Congressman Darryl Issa (R-CA) in September, now incorporates suggestions and comments from industry which strengthen the role of CIO, but limit requirements for centralized IT purchasing.

By some estimates, the legislation could save taxpayers as much as $20 billion annually by fundamentally reforming the way federal agencies purchase IT.  If passed, the FITARA would be the most significant reform to the IT acquisition landscape since the 2002 E-Government Act and the 1996 Clinger Cohen Act, which created the agency CIO function.  


Below is a brief summary of the updated legislation:

The Act would give more responsibility to agency CIOs by making them presidential appointees or designees, granting them greater budget authority and limiting agencies to one CIO for the whole agency; bureaus, offices, and subordinate agency organizations could not have their own CIO.

The updated bill promotes the use of “fixed price technical competition” or “bid to price” contracts, in which agencies would specify the price they planned to pay for IT products and/or services and contractors would compete to offer the best solution or service at that price.

After backlash from acquisition experts, the legislation was modified to eliminate plans for a government-wide IT Acquisition Center fearing that it might duplication services already provided by GSA.  Instead, the bill now calls for the establishment of the Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Collaboration Center to develop centralized program and technical management expertise to coordinate IT acquisition best practices.  The new Collaboration Center located within OMB, will assist agencies with challenging IT projects and support the CIO Council with TechStat reviews.

The House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee approved the bill on March 20th after a brief markup session.  The Committee stated that they believed it was time to move the bill to the full House, however there is still opportunity for modification and feedback.    

If passed, the legislation could affect the way agencies buy IT, moving decision higher up the food chain, as well as putting more emphasis on strategic sourcing and shared services.  Contractors need to keep an eye on this legislation and prepare for potential changes that may affect their business development efforts.