This story is part of Federal News Radio’s weekly feature, Inside the Reporter’s Notebook.
“Inside the Reporter’s Notebook” is a biweekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and other events. This is not a column or commentary – it’s news tidbits, strongly- sourced buzz, and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.
The federal government’s procurement system is not designed for optimal performance.
That was the understatement of the week by Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
But Rung, who was speaking at the quarterly President’s Management Advisory Board meeting in Washington Friday, wasn’t just complaining about the situation that has led to more than 3,300 contracting offices across the world, huge price discrepancies among agencies when buying similar goods and services, and huge duplication across the government.
“I think a lot of well-intentioned acquisition reform legislation has had some unintended consequences,” Rung said. “At one point, in [the Clinton administration’s] Reinventing Government, they called for an end to government monopolies and they were talking about different functional areas. But one of the areas they were referring to was the General Services Administration being the sole entity to purchase IT acquisitions. So, they wanted to bring that authority back to the agencies. One of the unintended consequences was that we have this massive proliferation of duplicative contracts across government. So, we now have this model that we have to do something with.”
Rung’s perspective opens the door a little bit on the thinking by the Obama administration about what’s driving category management.
Few doubt the government could be more efficient. Few would argue that initiatives such as strategic sourcing or spend management wouldn’t benefit the government.
The question that continues to come back is how to address the industrial base that has grown up under this flawed and broken model.
Congressman Will Hurd is flexing his technology background.
First, the freshman Republican from Texas took the reins of the new Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on IT, where his priorities include cybersecurity, privacy and how best to bring emerging technologies into the government.
Now, he’s focusing on the Homeland Security Department.
“Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t make sense to have one agency using multiple IT systems that do the same thing. That’s a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars,” Hurd said in a statement.
The bill would require the DHS CIO to submit a report to the House and Senate oversight committees that details the number of IT systems, an assessment of the number of systems that are duplicative, a strategy for reducing the redundant systems and the potential cost savings or cost avoidance.
Another chief information officer is calling it a career.
Jerry Williams, the CIO at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, will leave government March 31 after about 31 years of service.
“There is no good time to leave government, but if you are going to do it, it’s like diving into the pool so all the thinking about it doesn’t help and eventually you have to just jump in the water,” Williams said in an interview.
Williams will not be going too far away. He’ll become the CEO of an IT services firm called Ryan.
“My decision to go to Ryan is a result of a conversation between me and the owner and I just decided that this is the one I like to do,” he said.
Who will be the interim FSA CIO has yet to be determined, according to Williams.
He joins a long list of long-time federal technology officials to leave government.
Glenn Haggstrom, the VA’s principal executive director in the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, stepped down quietly March 25 after pressure mounted over cost overruns at a VA hospital in Aurora, Colorado.
While Haggstrom was not the program manager or the procurement official for the project that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, he was the supervising official over all of the agency’s construction portfolio.
One former Office of Management and Budget official called working at the big gray building on Pennsylvania Avenue “the best job you’ll ever hate.” That’s why this two-year term appointment to be the IT category manager could be so enticing to some.
OMB is looking for a senior executive with at least 10 years of experience managing IT acquisitions, expert knowledge of the IT supplier base and at least five years managing large-scale strategy initiatives.
Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said this position would be the first governmentwide full-time category manager.
In that role, the IT category manager would work with Rung and federal CIO Tony Scott to improve the governmentwide coordination of agency buys for hardware, software, telecommunications and other related goods and services.