Number:  113-35                             
Date:  December 16, 2014

Senate Passes H.R. 3979,
the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2015

On December 12, 2014, the Senate passed H.R. 3979, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2015, by a vote of 89-11.  The bill previously was passed by the House, on December 4, 2014, by a vote of 300-119.  Among other things, the bill would authorize defense funding for FY 2015, amend requirements relating to Federal information technology (IT) acquisition and the role of Chief Information Officers (CIO), and extend the authority of Federal agencies to rehire Federal annuitants for part time work.  The IT and CIO provisions of the bill are contained in Division A, Subtitle D.  The bill now goes to the President for his signature. 

Following are provisions of interest to SSA:

Increased Authority for Chief Information Officers

  • Would provide that Federal agency Chief Information Officers (CIO)1 have a significant role in: the decision process of annual and multi-year IT planning, budgeting, programming, and implementation; IT reports and reporting requirements; and IT management, governance, and oversight.
  • Would require in annual IT capital planning, consistent with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that the agency CIO approve its agency IT budget request and certify that IT investments are adequately implementing IT development incrementally, as defined in OMB’s annual guidance.
  • Would prohibit an agency from entering into major IT contracts or agreements, or reprogramming of funds for IT programs, without review and approval by the agency CIO.  Would also require an agency to include the CIO as a full participant in any process it uses to approve such contracts or agreements.  The CIO’s duties would not be delegable except for approval of non-major IT contracts and agreements, which would be delegated to someone who reports directly to the CIO.

Enhancements to Management of IT Investments

  • Would require OMB to make publicly available a list of each major IT investment made Federal agencies; such list must include data on cost, schedule, and performance.  In developing such information, agency CIOs would provide OMB the necessary information on at least a semi-annual basis.  In addition, agency CIOs would categorize their major IT investments according to risk, as determined by OMB guidance. 
  • Would require, for a major IT investment that receives a high-risk rating for four consecutive quarters, that the CIO and agency program manager of the investment, in consultation with OMB, conduct a review that determines whether the investment can succeed.
  • Would require OMB to communicate the results of the review to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, both Senate and House Appropriations Committees, and both Senate and House committees with primary jurisdiction over the agency.
  • Would require OMB to deny any funding requests for additional development, modernization, or enhancement for such IT investment still rated as high risk one year after the completion of the review.  OMB would deny such requests until the CIO of such investment determines that the high risk levels have been addressed and the investment can deliver the remaining planned development increments within the planned cost and schedule.
  • Would sunset on and after five years after the date of enactment.

Review of Agency IT Portfolios

  • Would require OMB to implement a review process for agencies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their IT investment portfolios.  Review elements would also include identifying and developing opportunities to consolidate acquisition and management of IT services and increasing the use of shared service delivery models, among other things.  The CIO, in conjunction with the agency Chief Operating Officer (or equivalent) and OMB, would review the agency IT portfolio annually.
  • Would sunset on and after five years after the date of enactment.

Other IT Reform Provisions

  • Would establish requirements for Federal agency assessments of data center inventories and the development of data center consolidation plans.  Provisions and requirements would be similar to those in S. 1611, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Act of 2013.  See Legislative Bulletin 113-24.
  • Would expand the training and use of IT acquisition cadres by requiring Federal agencies with Chief Financial Officers to address additional elements in their acquisition human capital plans to support the timely and effective acquisition of IT.  The General Services Administration (GSA) and OMB would work with such agencies in updating their plans. 
  • Would require GSA to issue regulations no later than 180 days after enactment regarding when the Federal Government does not use the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative to purchase services or supplies, yet they are offered under the Initiative.  Regulations would stipulate that the contract file for such purchase must include a comparative value analysis of the services and supplies offered under the Initiative and those purchased under another source.
  • Would require GSA to develop a strategic sourcing initiative that would allow for the purchase of a software license agreement for use by all Executive agencies as one user to the extent possible.  The initiative would also enhance the acquisition, shared use, and dissemination of software among agencies. 

Extension of Rehired Annuitant Authority

  • Would extend, through 2019, the authority of all Federal agencies to rehire Federal annuitants for part-time work without having to offset their salary by the annuity.                                                                                              
  • Would become effective as of October 28, 2014.


1 Unless otherwise stated, a Federal agency in this bulletin refers to covered agencies listed in section 901(b)(1) or 901(b)(2) of Title 31 of the United States Code.  A number of provisions of interest in H.R. 3979 explicitly exclude the Department of Defense as a covered agency.  For the purposes of this bulletin, the explicit exclusions are not mentioned.

2 Before this authority was granted in 2009, an agency rehiring a retiree had to offset their salary by their annuity unless it got a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management.