By CAGW, Special for USDR
Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO) Steven VanRoekel its June Porker of the Month for his flagrant disregard of the pressing need to fix the federal government’s severely dysfunctional procurement process. On June 19, 2014, Mr. VanRoekel proclaimed that all is well with federal information technology (IT), leading CAGW to wonder if he should win the first “Are You Kidding Me?” award.
“takes a village to move federal IT”
Mr. VanRoekel said no legislation is needed to fix federal IT, meaning he is opposed to H.R. 1232, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which passed the House on February 25, 2014, and was included as part of the House-passed fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. FITARA would save taxpayers billions of dollars, streamline the federal government’s procurement process, reduce wasteful spending, and improve the efficiency of government IT systems.
For the past 30 years, CAGW has closely monitored numerous federal IT software programs that never made it out of the gate. For example, in 1998, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) financial system, known as the Core Financial and Logistics System, wasted $249 million after six years of missed deadlines; in 2006, the VA’s Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise, wasted another $110 million; and the Internal Revenue Service’s costly and insufficient Cyberfile program, initialized in 2002, wasted $17 million and duplicates an already existing, well-functioning Free-File system. The most recent and publicized examples of failed federal IT software programs, such as the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s HealthCare.gov and the VA’s VistA program, have more importantly proved that government mismanagement and inefficiency doesn’t just cost money; it can also cost lives.
Mr. VanRoekel expressed his views on IT reform in an online-chat session with Federal News Radio. He stated, “I don’t actually think we need legislation in this space…I think the increased pressure on the role that technology is playing is going to take us, with good management practices and good policy, in the right direction of where we need to go.” If the federal government’s procurement woes are as easy to fix as Mr. VanRoekel suggests, there would not be a litany of failed and costly IT projects.
In fact, Mr. VanRoekel stated that such failed programs are merely “notable risks and failures that teach us how to do things differently in the future.” After missed deadlines and milestones due to insufficient data collection and poor policy implementation helped waste billions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers, it does not appear that Mr. VanRoekel has learned anything. If it “takes a village to move federal IT,” maybe Mr. VanRoekel should start with the village that represents the people: Congress.
For his obtuse attitude toward grossly mismanaged federal procurement and his failure to support a commonsense, comprehensive approach to acquisition reform such as FITARA, CAGW names U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel its June Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.