What's behind agency FITARA scores?

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Scores on the fifth Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act scorecard generally continued a downward trend. Dave Powner, director of IT management issues for the Government Accountability Office, said low marks for data center optimization and software licensing were pulling down scores.

"There's about two agencies that are out of the data center business, three agencies doing a decent job and 19 that I would say are doing poorly," Powner said at a Nov. 15 House Oversight and Government Reform IT and Government Operations joint Subcommittee hearing.

Agencies are supposed to inventory and optimize their software license holdings, with an eye to avoiding duplication and overbuying. Powner said it was "inexcusable" 17 agencies failed the software license inventory metric, considering that GAO issued a report on software license management in 2014, it's included in FITARA and the MEGABYTE Act further emphasized the need to inventory software licenses.

Wade Warren, the acting deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lone agency to ever register an A grade on the scorecard, said "we committed significant financial and personnel resources to this effort, and championed it from the top-down" to improve grades.

While he noted the emphasis on improving IT management, Warren credited the sharpness of the jump in score to working more closely with GAO and better reporting.

USAID CIO Jay Mahanand testified that the agency has saved between $50 million and $60 million over the last three or four years by moving to the cloud.

While the Department of Energy's FITARA grade dropped from a C-minus to a D-plus, Powner said one positive change of "major significance" is that Energy is the only agency to elevate the CIO in its reporting structure to the secretary level since FITARA was enacted.

Powner said the agency needed to do better on data center optimization and software licensing. He also noted that agency CIOs only lasted an average of 1.7 years since 2004.

"This is a major issue and reason why IT has not been effectively managed," he said, adding Energy needs "better visibility into the IT budget and better governance of their system acquisitions."

The Small Business Administration, which has shown improvement on its scores, improved its CIO's oversight of agency IT spending. Where the agency needs to improve, he added, is on CIO's involvement on budget formulation and strengthening the IT workforce.

IT Subcommittee chairman Will Hurd (R-Texas) said that for scorecard 6.0, "a measure of whether agencies have established working capital funds as authorized by the MGT Act... will be made a part of the scorecard."

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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