Congess

Agencies still aren't acing FITARA

Will Hurd 

IT oversight leader Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is pleased but sees room for improvement in FITARA implementation by agencies.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is a tough grader. Through three rounds of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act implementation review, no agency has been awarded top marks.

That is not to say agencies did not show improvement, said Subcommittee on Information Technology chairman Will Hurd (R-Texas). Hurd said at a Dec. 6 hearing that he was "pleased" to see continued progress.

For the third scorecard, "each agency's total portfolio stat savings was divided by its total IT budget for the most recent three fiscal years," Hurd explained. "Then, as with the risk assessment transparency grades, the resulting ratio was ranked.… This tiered system is more accurate than the system used on the first two scorecards."

Of the 24 CFO Act agencies scored, 12 improved their grades, 11 maintained the same letter grade and only one -- the Department of Transportation, which received the only failing grade – dipped.

Despite that failing grade, David Powner, director of IT Management Issues at the Government Accountability Office, praised Transportation CIO Richard McKinney, and pointed out the agency deserves to be acknowledged for making positive strides.

Six agencies – the Departments of Commerce, Interior and Veterans Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency; the General Services Administration, and the Social Security Administration – tied for the best grade, a B-plus.

Since the first scorecard in August 2015, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Education have displayed the greatest improvement, with SSA jumping from a D to a B-plus, and Education jumping from an F to a C-plus.

NASA enjoyed the biggest single bump on the most recent scorecard, earning a C-plus this round after receiving F grades on the first two.

The Department of Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency each jumped from a C to a B-plus.

And GSA, after falling from a B on the first scorecard to a C on the second, rebounded with a B-plus.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), an original sponsor of FITARA, made clear once again that the grades "should not be seen as a scarlet letter on agencies, but rather a lesson for agencies on how to improve."

"Technology is a transformative force on how to do business, do a better job to provide service to our customers… and it needs to be looked at in that way," he said.

Powner noted that while agencies have continued to show improvement in data center consolidation, that is the "biggest bucket" for savings in IT spending.

Hurd said agencies still have a lot of room to improve, but also suggested the committee did, too. He said the committee was open -- and expected -- to further "evolve and adjust the scorecard" to more accurately encapsulate agencies' progress.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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