The Solution to Waste, Inefficiencies, and Duplication in Government?

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The Solution to Waste, Inefficiencies, and Duplication in Government?

I just read an article that seemed to make sense so me. Sort of. According to Rep. Darell Issa, R-California and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “the federal government currently spends $81 billion each year on information technology, yet its use and deployment of IT is full of duplication and failure. At a time when we are facing record deficits and our national debt has exceeded GDP, it has never been more important for government IT acquisition to maximize the American taxpayer’s return on investment, reduce operational risk and provide value to citizens. Yet, because of the antiquated way the government defines its requirements and acquires IT, we are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars each year on failed programs.”

He is proposing granting agency CIO’s authority over their information technology budgets. Currently, only the Veterans Affairs Department CIO Roger Baker has such authority. If approved, the draft legislation would be the most significant amendment to the federal technology landscape since the Clinger Cohen Act in 1996, which created agency IOS and 2002 E-Government Act.

According to the article, “sixteen years after the seminal Clinger-Cohen legislation laid the foundation for the federal government’s acquisition and management of IT and 10 years after the E-Government Act established a federal chief information officer, program failure rates and cost overruns still plague between 72 percent and 80 percent of large federal IT programs, according to industry estimates. Federal managers say that 47 percent of their budget goes to maintain obsolete and deficient IT resources. Estimates suggest that the cost to the taxpayer is as high as $20 billion wasted each year.”

The legislation calls for the creation of a Commodity IT Acquisition Center which would oversee large government wide contracts and require agencies to consult with the center on acquisitions over $500 million. The goal of the center is to eliminate inconsistent practices to ensure uniformity and consistency in acquisition process for commodity IT across federal government. The center would be funded by collecting 5% of fees agencies currently receive for managing several types of government wide contracts.

Perhaps a good idea whose time has come or just a different approach that would deliver another layer of complexity and end up with the same results?  Maybe we should just concentrate on doing away with paper.

What do you think?


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