FITARA implementation begins

O ne thing that wasn’t included in the IT budget passback was any details on how agencies should implement the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). It became law in December when Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed the Defense Authorization bill into law.

But that doesn’t mean the Office of Management and Budget isn’t thinking about it.

In fact, sources confirmed the Chief Information Officer’s Council held a meeting last week to discuss the bill and ensure there is consistent implementation across the government.

Sources, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the planning meeting, said overall there is a good feeling among the CIO Council about the law.

One source said at least inside OMB’s E-Gov office, there clearly is an understanding of the challenge in rolling out the requirements under FITARA, specifically around CIO authorities.

The source said OMB recognizes FITARA’s success doesn’t just depend on the CIO community, but acquisition, human resources, financial management and, maybe most importantly, the deputy secretaries.

Another source said agencies with a single CIO will have an easier time implementing the law as compared to those departments with CIOs across multiple bureaus.

“With bureaus, I would think there is a likely desire to say in this implementation, let’s get ourselves to a baseline of operations,” one CIO said.

The first source said agency reaction so far to FITARA is mixed. Some are more excited than others, but OMB’s overall goal is to make sure there isn’t fragmentation of how the government implements the law.

The likely path OMB will take in implementing FITARA, though sources wouldn’t confirm if the recent discussions with the CIO Council addressed these issues, is through implementation guidance and possibly appealing to the President’s Management Council.

Sources also confirmed OMB is reaching out to former federal executives and other experts for advice on the best way to implement the bill.

The key to FITARA’s implementation will OMB’s leadership and Congressional oversight.

With the bill’s main author, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), no longer leading the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, it’s unclear how much attention Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the new chairman, or Rep. William Hurd (R-Texas), the chairman of the IT subcommittee, will pay to FITARA.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.

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