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.
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 Logistcs 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.
Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in
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