Awareness and Collaboration Can Improve FITARA Scorecard

July 5, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
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The results of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard, released by the Government Accountability Office in June, revealed many agencies continue to face challenges. For the first time since Congress began composing the biannual scorecard, more agency grades declined than improved.

Five agencies dropped a full letter grade, including the Departments of Defense, Interior and Labor; the Office of Personnel Management; and the Social Security Administration.

“This is not a checkbox exercise,” says David Rubal, chief technologist for data and analytics, DLT Solutions. “IT modernization is a full staff investment, and there needs to be funding for more than just infrastructure.”

This year, software licensing was added as a new metric to measure agency performance. Only three agencies avoided an F grade and have complete inventories of their software licenses.

Rubal believes the best way to boost grades is awareness. A lot of times one government agency buys software to solve a problem and then another agency buys the same one without realizing the government already owns the license. “Collaboration is crucial both inside the agency and out,” says Rubal. “This is not the time to create more silos.”

He sees software as the key to innovation in the DOD space. “Software is driving the mission capabilities of the Defense Department,” says Rubal. “Government needs to fully embrace the software model.”

Whether agency chief information officers (CIOs) are permanent or acting was another metric added to this year’s scorecard. Eight of the 24 agencies reviewed still rely on interim leaders. Cameron Chehreh, chief technology officer, Dell EMC Federal, thinks that’s a problem. “The lack of permanent CIOs across government inhibits digital transformation,” he says.

“Of key importance, FITARA highlights the fact that CIOs must have a holistic view of their agency, from IT budget planning and execution to managing acquisitions and delegating responsibilities,” says Chehreh. “Although their list of responsibilities has grown exponentially, this means CIOs can now completely transform how government acquires, uses and implements IT.”

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