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Nick Wakeman

Issa's reform effort doesn't go far enough

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to strengthen the role of chief information officers and codify many of the Obama administration’s IT reform initiatives.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller calls it the first major rewrite of IT laws since 2003.

It is hard to argue with what Issa is proposing. The most significant point is that he wants agencies to have a single, central CIO, and then the CIOs at the bureaus would be deputies. The CIO would have the final say on IT budgets and spending.

A couple agencies, such as Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, already have that kind of structure, and are using it well.

Issa’s proposal also would make law the White House’s 25-point plan, the cloud first initiative and data center consolidation. He also focuses on cloud computing, website consolidation and strategic sourcing.

Miller reports that industry groups, such as TechAmerica, are welcoming the initiative because it at least kicks off a much needed debate about fixing the acquisition system.

Part of me wonders, though, if, as well-intentioned as Issa might be, his proposal might not go far enough.

To me, what’s missing is a focus on results. Buying IT more cheaply and more efficiently really isn’t the point; the government needs to be buying IT that helps agencies accomplish their missions.

There needs to be a direct connection between purchases and results. That sounds like the most logical and obvious statement, but too often it is the missing link in the myriad projects that go off the rails.

Issa’s proposal is probably a necessary first step, but stronger CIOs, consolidated data centers and cloud computing are only tools, not the ultimate objective.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 21, 2012 at 7:23 PM


Reader Comments

Mon, Sep 24, 2012

Good point, it seems that many of the laws (like the taxpayer/shareholder value) are myopic, and don't take into account the raison d'etre for a given entity, including govt. agencies. I've long thought that the laws need to be more holistic, and ensure they support the well being of the entity, which is not just cost. Sometimes, the cost only focus works to the detriment of the mission, but the procurement folks have no other choice.

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