Federal IT Oversight Bill in the Pipeline

Lora Bentley

If Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) has his way, federal agencies undertaking IT projects will have a lot of explaining to do if they fail.


According to ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman, Senate Bill 90, The Information Technology Investment Oversight Enhancement and Waste Prevention Act of 2009, would require federal agencies to establish Web sites that will inform the public of the following:


  • cost, schedule and performance of major IT investments
  • list of project elements that have missed projects benchmark by more than 10 percent and explanations as to why they have missed said benchmarks
  • dates on which project investments were "rebalanced"
  • graphs of project trends
  • quarterly updates of all of the above


The bill also calls for the creation of "tiger teams" to help agencies whose projects are in trouble to avoid significant losses. The tiger teams will be made up of individuals who either 1) are certified as senior or expert project and program managers in the federal certification program; 2) have comparable education, training and experience to successfully manage IT projects; or 3) have experience and expertise in managing high-risk IT investment projects. To avoid conflict of interest, tiger team members will be assigned to work on failing projects within their own agencies.


Finally, the bill also outlines the steps agencies are allowed to take to "fix" failing or troubled projects.


Krigsman agrees the bill is a good idea and should be pursued, but he also offered this to Sen. Carper: Your bill is somewhat vague in certain areas and lacks sufficient teeth in others; nonetheless, all things considered you've achieved a good starting point. However, please explain your confidence level that those executing the plan will have sufficient independence to actually do the job objectively and thoroughly?


In response, Carper's staff has asked Krigsman for his thoughts on the proposed legislation. It will certainly be interesting to watch how this bill progresses.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 18, 2009 3:22 AM MTGraves MTGraves  says:

On underlying concern with performance legislation and the outlining of specific manner in which project should be handled is the creation of a cookie-cutter approach in an industry that advances rapidly. New technologies may be shunned because the deviate from the norms of the accepted practice and companies suffer the consequences.

Hypothetical situation... When Microsoft introduced Active Directory several years ago, it represented a significant advancement in system management. However, if the first government organization fails to implement properly and experiences cost over runs, the government may deem this as a failure for the organization and set precedence for other government CIOs not incorporate the technology in fear of repercussions.

The second critical concern is the statement that Tiger Teams will be assigned to work within the own agencies to prevent conflict of interest. On the surface it appears to be a logical choice providing the result is success. If project is not a success than it would appear this creates conflict of interest because of the potential for undue influence... Will a Tiger Team really be willing to report a project cannot be salvaged to their CIO?

Jun 18, 2009 7:36 AM HH HH  says:

Generally the issue is the government doesn't want to spend the money to buy the right tools or pay for the right people. It's hardly surprising that projects are generally run so poorly in government


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