The Case for 18F: Why Federal IT Procurement, Contracting Need to Change

A Q&A with General Services Administration Administrator Dan Tangherlini

Only a couple years old now and the federal digital consultancy 18F has a lot to deal with. The innovation group, which helps agencies build, buy and share modern tech, is under fire from sources within and outside of government. Externally, 18F is defending itself from IT lobbyists, representing companies like IBM, Deloitte, Cisco Systems and others, that allege 18F is hindering revenues as a competing government tech provider — a message they shared at a recent hearing evaluating 18F's effectiveness. Internally, the group has met resistance from CIOs unsure of its private-sector development practices, and within the General Services Administration (GSA), 18F's parent agency, insiders say that the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) that funds 18F is actively working to terminate the group. Tangherlini said 18F, one of the contributors responsible for saving Healthcare.gov, should be allowed to innovate, especially considering the federal government’s nearly $90 billion in IT spending, 75 percent of which is spent on outdated technology, according to a recent 18F oversight report by the Government Accountability Office.


The Case for 18F: Why Federal IT Procurement, Contracting Need to Change