Obama Mulls Creation of IT Mega-Agency

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.

U.S. CapitolEach 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.

Comments

  1. BY Steve says:

    While changing contractors was probably necessary, why did it have to go to Accenture? They are headquartered in Ireland, and most of their employees are in India.

  2. BY Fred Bosick says:

    This requirement should also be added, “Any IT contract should not be let to agencies or staffing firms employing those who are *not* citizens”.

    The hiring difficulty is easy to solve. Stop writing job descriptions that are similar to those written by private industry. Many of those are deliberately constructed to exclude US citizen professionals.

  3. BY XyZ says:

    It is unfortune, that person I voted for who was proponent against outsourcing and who promised to stop outsourcing, is giving contract to the company which is big on outsourcing and lives on it.

    Looks like half of nation is saying “You Lie” now. Not just one of the congressmen.

    Mr. president, you need to impose some sort of restrictions to keep some jobs here, otherwise, we will just be world market without any buyers, because all the money would be vanished.

  4. BY Jim says:

    Always more centralization and the creation of more agencies is seen as the answer.

  5. BY FrankQ says:

    Accenture has a big presence in the USA.and its USA workforce is significant. Some employees could be from India but Accenture employes a lot of American Citizens whatever their origin is.
    Let me be clear. I agree 100% that any government entity not only the Federal one but at the city level should use only American Citizens. We have enough highly educated professionals in America to enforce this requirement. It is immoral to pay foreigners with taxpayers’ dollars when there are qualified Americans who can do the job.

  6. BY Maurice Brown says:

    It’s not the creation of a mega-agency to handle IT for the government that will solve this issue. It’s the IDEA that you can just wave a magic wand and this new agency will make everything “just work”. That idea is misleading at best and outright treasonous in some scenarios.

    This is the kind of thinking that created DHS and its child (that gets press for employing people who LIKE to touch women and children). Bad cases make for bad laws and this is exactly what were seeing here. Action for the sake of action.

    One-size fits all is well known to simply not work and the problem is that different regions have different talent pools and needs.

    I favor this approach: smaller semi-autonomous shops and groups with global mandates and standards but discretion on localized implementation. They’d have access to an exclusive set of resources to fill gaps in their skill sets for any given task. For governance a system similar the federal court system would be enacted. This would assure strategic alignment and a general “hands off” rule barring interdiction except for outliers requiring arbitration of some sort would maintain that degree of freedom.

    For government oversight the following would be proposed. Audits by GAO with quarterly reports to a Congressional committee while under the Executive branch with military liaisons for each area. In addition to this approved tier 1, 2, and 3 outsourcing would be allowed on a case by case basis in a competitive marketplace. The tiers would be ranked by PERFORMANCE and not size or notoriety.

    These checks and balanced would serve to make certain that there’s accountability and oversight at all levels while limiting bureaucracy and the inefficiencies that accompany it.

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