Ideas on Improving IT Procurement Reform Bills

This post, written by Raj Sharma, originally appeared on Public Spend Forum

Federal IT procurement reform took another step yesterday, when House Democrats Gerry Connolly and Anna Enshoo introduced the Reforming Federal Procurement of Information Technology Act (RFP-IT). Along with the bipartisan Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), the RFP-IT represents more momentum for changing the way the federal government procures and manages large IT programs.

The new bill addresses a number of issues, including establishing a central authority for all federal IT through the office of the Chief Technology Officer. The bill also aims to establish a sort of center of excellence for complex IT projects, by creating a Digital Government Office that is led by the CTO. To address some of the talent issues in government, the bill formalizes the “Presidential Innovation Fellows” program, which aims to bring in top IT innovators from the commercial space, and also allows for flexible hiring authority by circumventing the government pay schedule. Finally, to make it easier to access suppliers and speed up procurement, the bill raises the threshold for a simplified IT acquisition from $150,000 to $500,000.

As I see it, this is definitely another step in the right direction, and along the lines of potential paths we’ve heard coming out of the White House. However, there are a number of areas which policymakers and IT should consider as they improve the next iteration.

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