The Current State of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform and Management

Updated February 3, 2020


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $90 billion each year on information technology (IT) investments. Historically, the projects supported by these investments have often incurred “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays.”In addition, GAO has reported that these projects may contribute little to mission-related outcomes and, in some cases, may fail altogether. These undesirable results, according to GAO, “can be traced to a lack of disciplined and effective management and inadequate executive-level oversight.”

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted on December 19, 2014, to establish a long-term framework through which federal IT investments could be tracked, assessed, and managed, to significantly reduce wasteful spending and improve project outcomes. These requirements of FITARA are carried out by the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO). The position of the Federal CIO was created by the E-Government Act of 2002 as the “Administrator, Office of Electronic Government.”

Congress and GAO have actively monitored the activities of the Federal CIO and the initiatives carried out by the office. Both have been especially attentive to the topics of data center use and cloud deployment as they relate to achieving the goals of FITARA. As of November 2019, GAO reported that federal agencies had fully implemented 61%of the 1,320 IT management-related recommendations that GAO has made to them since FY2010. Likewise, agencies had implemented 76%of the 3,323 security-related recommendations that GAO has made since FY2010.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has held two hearings on FITARA in the 116th Congress (June 26, 2019, and December 11, 2019).No legislation that would impact FITARA implementation has been introduced.

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