The Clinger–Cohen Act of 1996 was created in response to the 1994 Computer Chaos report to Congress, intended to improve federal IT acquisition and management. This law was formerly known as the Information Technology Management Reform Act. It repealed and replaced the Brooks ADP Act, and was further expanded upon by The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).

It was enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996. It incorporates two separate, but related, acts:

Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996

This act changed how agencies were to approach IT management and planning. These requirements were codified within Title 40, Subtitle III.

Previously, the Brooks ADP Act required agencies to go through GSA for all IT procurements; this law repealed that act and reestablished independent purchasing at each agency (but still subject to OMB oversight).

The law required each agency to create holistic processes to oversee IT governance, planning, and implementation known as enterprise architecture (EA). It also established a process for IT investments (and their related risks) to be reported to OMB through a process known as capital planning and investment control (CPIC). By law CPIC is supposed to be part of the President’s budget process, but in practice this is largely separate and overseen by OMB OFCIO which is a Management Office, not a Budget Office.

This law officially established a Chief Information Officer at each Executive Agency, responsible for executing IT policies. FITARA would later expand these responsibilities to include IT budget oversight, but only for CFO Act Agencies. Furthermore, the law tasks NIST with creating technology & security standards, but still allows agencies the ability to create their agency-specific requirements as well; this would later be expanded under FISMA.

An earlier draft of this law included the creation of the position of the Federal Chief Information Officer but this language was removed. As a result, the position & related office would not be created until 2014 through FITARA.

Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996

This act focused on improving the federal acquisition process, covering everything from fair competition through protests.