VanRoekel: Current law sufficient to permit federal IT success

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Federal agencies don't necessarily need a new information technology reform law to become better in managing projects, said Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel while testifying Jan. 22 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I think there's definitely room within the existing law on the policies and implementation of the people side that definitely allows us the flexibility to be successful," VanRoekel said.

What is a challenge, he said, is that money for federal IT spending typically must be spent within the fiscal year for which Congress appropriates it.

"So, within existing law, you have the authority by and the ability to do what you need to do to be successful?" asked Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the newly appointed chairman of the government operations subcommittee.

"I do believe so," VanRoekel responded.

The committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has a draft legislative proposal that would make changes to the way the government procures IT and strengthen the role of federal chief information officers.

Included in the draft proposal is language that would restrict the title of CIO to just one person within each federal agency. Within the Justice Department, Issa said, there exist 40 CIOs.

"In many cases, they're toothless tigers," said Tom Davis, a former Republican chairman of the committee who testified at the hearing; Davis is now a director of government affairs at Deloitte & Touche.

But the proliferation of the title of CIO isn't necessarily a problem, Davis said. "It's okay to have a multiplicity of CIOs if they have authority," he said.

Under questioning by Issa, VanRoekel echoed Davis's statement. "It's not a titling problem, it's a governance and management problem," he said.

For more:
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimonies available)
- watch an archived copy of the hearing on UStream

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