Better Technology Buying

December 13, 1996

Better Technology Buying

In a three-part series this week, The Los Angeles Times looks at Uncle Sam's recent large-scale information-technology projects.

"After pumping $300 billion into computer systems in the last two decades," the report concludes, "the federal government has compiled a record of failure that has jeopardized the nation's welfare, eroded public safety and squandered untold billions of dollars."

The Times report looks at a series of failed federal computing efforts, from the IRS's $4 billion troubled tax systems modernization program to Social Security's inability to match $234 billion in wages to the people who earned them.

In an effort to address such failures, the report notes, Congress has overhauled the Brooks Act and other federal procurement statutes. Here's a quick look at some of those efforts:

The Information Technology Management Reform Act (1996):

Revokes the Brooks Act (which made GSA the overseer of information technology for the government), requires that each agency appoint a chief information officer (CIO), and creates a government-wide CIO council.

The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (1994):

Cuts red tape for federal employees who make purchases, most notably through allowing the use of credit cards for purchases under $2,500. It also simplifies procedures for procurements under $100,000.

The Federal Acquisition Reform Act (1996):

Frees the government from having to select only low bidders, eliminates several regulations for big purchases and allows agencies to cooperate more closely with suppliers on big procurements before awarding contracts.

The Government Performance and Results Act (1993):

Requires that federal agencies measure the results from their technology investments.

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