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Federal IT Purchasing Reform Is Unlikely This Year

Budget negotiations will dominate what little time Congress spends in session the rest of this year, pushing procurement reform to 2015 or later.

by / August 7, 2014

An overhaul to how federal government agencies purchase technology is not likely to happen this year, according to industry experts.

A lack of time for lawmakers to deliberate on the issue and questions on how changes may impact the Department of Defense (DOD) stand in the way of procurement reform legislation in 2014, explained Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president for public sector at the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) in a media briefing on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Separate versions of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) are working their way through Congress. The version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year differs significantly from the version marked up by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in June, reports Federal News Radio.

In addition, there’s a separate provision in the Defense Authorization bill regarding CIO authority at the DOD that complicates matters.

In an email to Government Technology, Hodgkins noted that the “sticking point” is that CIO authorities are different in each of the proposals and it remains to be seen how that will impact the DOD. There are also dissimilar provisions on data center consolidation and optimization that need to be addressed. Finally, the House bill has various elements that aren’t present in the Senate version, including improving the acquisition workforce, further enabling the adoption of cloud computing, funding flexibility and website consolidation.

Those items must be reconciled in order to move forward, Hodgkins said, making IT acquisition reform more likely to happen in 2015. Congress is expected to be in session for only about two weeks from now through Election Day, and will probably spend that time working on the fiscal 2015 budget.

“There is a critical mass in industry, the Congress and the Administration to achieve reform and make meaningful improvement and I expect it to remain in place going into the new Congress,” Hodgkins said. “The new Congress offers a ‘reset’ from the legislative perspective and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are strategically approaching this issue, and we anticipate them to bring more focus to that effort and begin to offer recommendations.”

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Brian Heaton

Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.

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