The DOBT Blog

The Department of Better Technology is dedicated to making great software that helps governments and non-profits better serve their communities.

The Reform Federal Procurement for Information Technology Act was Just Released

Today, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congressman Gerry Connolly released the Reform Federal Procurement for Information Technology Act. We think it’s an important second component to the already-through-the-House Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.

The bill echoes our recommendations for federal procurement reform:

  1. It formally establishes an Office of the Chief Technology Officer and makes them a voice to the president.
  2. It formally creates the Presidential Innovation Fellowship Program
  3. It creates a Digital Government Office that has authority over all large IT projects
  4. It gives the CTO the power to hire people outside of the standard government pay schedule (meaning government can pay people who work in technology market comparable salaries)
  5. It increases Small Acquisition Thresholds from $150,000 to $500,000, making it easier for government to buy small technology projects.

In addition, it should work well alongside FITARA, which calls for increased agency CIO authority. What will hopefully end up happening if both bills pass is that good talent can get inside of government, agencies that perform well can operate independently, and agencies that don’t can be pulled back in and reformed, while still having operational continuity (meaning: while that reform is happening, IT projects can still be done well, and run by the DGO).

So what’s missing? The stuff we talked about last week – fixing, and reforming the way registration for small businesse certifications works. And a Republican sponsor for a Republican-held house.

That said, we’re not sure how Congress writes a “stop throwing errors when a user clicks the submit button on” law. That’s going to take hearings, and most likely, a digital government office, to fix. And since this bill is at the discussion draft stage, perhaps soon we’ll see some Republicans jump onboard.

We’re excited to see this kind of movement. Having procurement reform happening means creating more opportunities, improving the way government can deliver services, and for thousands of small businesses, unlocking the largest customer in the world.