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AERA Responds to Call for Public Comment on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act
 
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June 2015
 


A provision added to Defense Department-related legislation in December 2014 has the potential to affect every agency throughout the federal government. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) gives departmental chief information officers new, broad authority involving a number of functions of federal agencies, including statistical.

These changes could negatively affect the functioning of statistical agencies, and their ability to address user needs.

Per the request of the Office of E-Government & Information Technology within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), AERA submitted a formal comment proposing that statistical agencies be exempt from the proposed FITARA guidelines for implementation.

In the AERA comment, Executive Director Felice J. Levine noted:

These guidelines would appear to transfer authority for data center decisions from statistical agencies to Departmental CIOs. The guidelines suggest that Departmental CIOs will have input into statistical agencies’ processes and procedures that could affect the quality of the statistics they produce as well as their timeliness and accessibility. The proposed change is potentially quite troublesome.

These new authorities granted by FITARA include: approval of agency-level contracts having anything to do with information technology; approval of agency-level budgets and investments in “appropriate” IT resources; approval for data centers, and a promise to consolidate data centers; approval of the selection and a significant role in the evaluation of agency-level CIO's; and requirements for frequent reporting by agencies to the Departmental CIO.

 
 
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