IT high on Government Reform agenda

As Congress prepares to return Jan. 20 for the second half of the 108th session, the House Government Reform Committee has set its agenda with a keen eye toward IT oversight.

Chairman Tom Davis said his committee will focus on the General Services Administration's reorganization of the Federal Technology Service, the ongoing implementation of the E-Government Act of 2002 and agency compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The oversight of FISMA may include authorizing additional resources, Davis said.

'I think it is not enough for Congress to mandate FISMA compliance. Unless we add the money in a separate package, we end up competing with our managerial priorities and get shortchanged,' Davis said in a recent online forum at GCN.com.

The Virginia Republican also will continue to watch how the Homeland Security Department deploys the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology System and the progress of the Transportation Security Administration.

'The committee had a successful 2003, but now we need to use our momentum to make the federal government even more efficient and effective,' Davis said.

Under the E-Government Act, the committee will pay close attention to how agencies implement the Digital Tech Corps, cooperative purchasing and share-in-savings provisions, Davis said.

The Digital Tech Corps program lets federal and private-sector IT employees swap positions for up to two years, while cooperative purchasing lets state and local governments buy IT products and services from GSA's Federal Supply Service IT schedule. Share-in-savings is a type of contracting that lets the contractor and agency share the money saved from developing a new system and better business processes.

Davis also said he plans on pushing the provisions of the Services Acquisition Reform Act through Congress that didn't get passed this past year as a part of the Defense Department's Authorization bill. These include creating an acquisition work force exchange program with the private sector, similar to the Digital Tech Corps, and establishing a more formalized protest process within agencies.

'If our aim is to locate the biggest sources of waste in government, we need look no further than the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year on acquiring goods and services, or on ineffective, duplicative government programs,' Davis said. 'But too often we look for fat as though it came wrapped in neat, tidy packages; too often we cut off fingers and toes. The reality is that waste is marbled throughout the bureaucracy.'

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