Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called on federal agencies to improve implementation of a federal information technology law on the first anniversary of its enactment.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted a year ago on December 18 to improve how the federal government acquires, implements and manages its information technology systems.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

“Congress passed FITARA with the goal of reducing waste in federal information technology (IT) spending and increasing agency accountability to the American taxpayer,” Carper said.

Although he has heard positive feedback from several federal Chief information Officers (CIOs) who feel FITARA empowered them with clear authority and guidance, Carper said agencies still have a lot of work to do.

“One year into FITARA, agencies across the federal government are still vulnerable to catastrophic IT failures, continue to struggle with tracking and managing data centers, and still fail to purchase software in a cost-effective manner. There is clearly room for improvement,” Carper said.

Because FITARA set a high bar for improving IT management and was meant to be a multi-year process, “this first anniversary is a good time for the leadership of agencies to assess how they are meeting the goals of FITARA and redouble their efforts to make real changes in the way the federal government manages its IT,” Carper added.

Carper also noted the GAO has said the federal government spends about $80 billion annually on IT, but many investments underperform and incur cost overruns and delays

Key aspects of FITARA include giving civilian agency CIOs more authority over the budget, governance and personnel processes for IT investments; increasing the transparency of IT investments and requiring agencies to review troubled investments; requiring development of a government-wide software purchasing program to lower acquisition and management costs; annual reviews of all IT investments to minimize duplication and waste and consolidation of federal data centers for efficiency and cost savings as recommended by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).