CIOs push back on FITARA scores

modernization (alphaspirit/ 

Two of the agencies with the lowest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act grades pushed back on their scores, and outlined their future modernization plans before a House panel.

Department of Agriculture CIO Gary Washington said the current grade on its IT investment portfolio is not "reflective of the progress we've made."

Washington also pointed to progress in moving to the cloud and consolidating the number of data centers and networks in use.

He said while about five to 10 percent of USDA systems are in commercial cloud, another 40 percent of systems are "cloud-ready," and "before 2020, we plan to significantly increase that number." Washington added that his agency has "to date in 2018" closed 18 data centers, and plans to reduce the number of networks from 17 to four by 2020.

USDA was docked a full letter grade from its final score because its CIO does not report to the secretary or deputy secretary level, something the agency said it would alter by the time the next FITARA hearing comes around.

Dave Powner, head of IT issues at the Government Accountability Office, said this reporting structure "is critical to carrying out [CIOs'] responsibilities… and will help to attract more qualified individuals to these positions over time."

The hearing was held jointly by IT subcommittee and the Government Operations subcommittees of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Building capacity using the authorities in the Modernizing Government Technology Act also formed a part of the latest round of FITARA scores.

Lynn Moaney, USDA's acting chief financial officer, testified while the department does not plan to create a new IT modernization working capital fund, it has received the okay from the Office of Management and Budget to put MGT funds in its existing working capital fund "if we track it separately."

Powner said, "establishing these funds is critical, so savings can be reinvested in agency IT priorities."

DOD under fire

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the Department of Defense, which accounts for about $45 billion of the federal government's IT spend and has received a D- or F-range grade on every scorecard to date for lagging on FITARA mandates.

"Being different is not an excuse for not following the rules," said Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).

Deasy, the brand-new DOD CIO, said that the agency applies incremental development to 50 percent of capabilities, and is moving toward the six-month delivery, for which the scorecard measured DOD does for just eight percent of its software projects.

"I can't tell you what it'll take in terms of timing" to improve DOD's FITARA score, he said, adding, "there's nothing you're asking for that any good CIO organization shouldn't just fundamentally do."

And while DOD "has been slow to achieve savings in the past," Deasy said, it projects to save $3.2 billion in IT spend through fiscal year 2023.

Looking ahead, he also testified the department plans to complete a full software licensing inventory by December 2018.

Deasy also estimated that DOD has about 35 CIOs in all. Mark Easton, DOD's deputy chief financial officer, said he believes "there should only be one."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.


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