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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Auditors Say Feds Needlessly Wasted $43 Billion

Every year, tens of billions of tax dollars are lost to waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. But much more could be lost if it wasn't for a team of federal watchdogs tasked with flagging any inefficiencies or wrongdoing within all government programs and projects.
That's according to the Special Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)—the group in charge of overseeing the 15 presidentially appointed IG's. The group consistently reminds lawmakers of out how the auditors' work saves the federal government billions of dollars each year—despite their annual collective operating budget of over $1 billion. 
This year, CIGIE said that taken together, all of the auditors' recommendations this year would result in about $32 billion in savings, The Washington Examiner first reported. Recommendations typically include telling agencies to ramp up their oversight or come up with a new policy that will help them run more efficiently.
The investigations this year have already resulted in $11 billion that was returned to the Treasury
The IG's total operating budget for 2014 was about $1.6 billion, according to CIGIE's financial audit for 2014.
-Brianna Ehley, CNBC.com
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Friday, December 26, 2014

What IT Budget Authority Really Means for CIOs

Federal CIOs got an early Christmas gift from Congress in 2014: explicit authority to plan and approve their department’s information technology budgets.
Under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which Congress passed as an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, CIOs are responsible for reviewing and approving department IT contracts. Department CIOs will also play a more direct role in the hiring of any bureau-level CIOs. The new law requires that department CIOs approve those appointments.
“I think this is going to be an interesting time in federal IT because, for the first time, we will see federal CIOs take ownership of the IT landscape in their agencies,” says General Services Administration (GSA) CIO and FedTech must-read IT blogger Sonny Hashmi.
FITARA applies to CIOs at civilian departments.
GSA was an early adopter of the consolidated IT approach, and Hashmi has experienced the benefits and challenges of having the agency’s IT under his authority.
He cautions against the bureaucracy that can bog down organizations with consolidated IT. They can become oversight driven, slow to respond and less innovative if they don’t strike the right balance, Hashmi says.
At GSA, Hashmi and his team are investing in transformative projects while reducing the amount of legacy systems. Most GSA systems are antiquated, and some are a quarter of a century old. While the systems run well, modernizing them would help reduce costs and make systems more flexible to meet emerging technology demands.
Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray has similar challenges with legacy systems. Bray wants to find an easier way to port legacy systems to cloud-based providers.

-Nicole Blake Johnson, FedTechMagazine.com
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FedScoop Exclusive: HHS to lead 2-year DATA Act pilot

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is in full swing, with the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department catching headlines in their path to issue a governmentwide set of financial data standards by May 2015. But quietly in the background, the Department of Health and Human Services is gearing up to lead a two-year pilot of the DATA Act to test how data standardization in a complex federal ecosystem works.
Section 5 of the DATA Act — a mandate for financial data transparency in conjunction with USAspending.gov — requires OMB to launch a pilot, and the office chose HHS to test the waters of the act’s massive and complex data standardization efforts. Beginning next May, a year after the act was signed into law, HHS will be the test dummy for the grant portion of the DATA Act to help OMB, the Treasury and the federal government as a whole better understand things like “the impact of data standardization across many different lines of business” and “where there are opportunities to eliminate unnecessary duplication of financial reporting,” Amy Haseltine, director of DATA Act Program Management Office and chief DATA Act officer with HHS, explained to FedScoop.
This two-year pilot of the act is by no means a walk in the park, though all agencies are required by May 2017 to report their financial statements in accordance with the new standards. But Haseltine thinks HHS will benefit greatly from its work. 

-Billy Mitchell, FedScoop.com 
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