After the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration is considering creating a one-stop shop that handles all federal tech projects, rather than have them overseen by a myriad of government agencies.
Each year, the federal government spends $77 billion on IT, but the White House isn’t convinced taxpayers are getting the most for their money. The Department of Health and Human Services spent at least $319 million on the controversial HealthCare.gov website, but as The Washington Post found out, getting an accurate accounting of the expense was at least as difficult as successfully using the site in October. Over the weekend, IT consulting giant Accenture was named as the new lead contractor on HeathCare.gov, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As the administration eyes creating a new agency to handle tech, it will most likely focus on government websites and other projects affecting the public, rather than large internal IT projects, a source told the Journal. That would mean prioritizing roughly 50 federal technology projects out a list of about 7,000.
Too often, costly federal tech projects are ultimately shelved. For example, there was the initiative to give handheld computers to U.S. Census workers and a multi-million dollar FBI computer system that would have tracked cases.
The White House is also reportedly looking into loosening hiring rules to make it more competitive in the talent hunt for technology specialists. Many agencies are struggling to hire IT talent in 80 days, far off from the recommended 14 days advocated by Robert Small of Sykesville, Md.-based IT recruiting firm Carroll Technology Services. Small told the Journal two weeks is the maximum time that should lapse in the hiring process because tech professionals have many options.