FITARA 14 Serves as Reset on Modernization Measurement

After issuing the last set of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scores, the parties responsible for the program said they would begin examining ways to evolve the measurements to be more meaningful to today's modernization goals. The latest report was issued in July of 2022 and reflected a shift to new measures resulting in eight agencies with declining marks and 15 agencies holding steady with the previous grades. This backslide and stasis is not bad news and was expected given the removal of data center consolidation goals, an area all agencies had mastered with "A" scores.

This 14th FITARA scorecard should be viewed as a measure of where agencies are in relation to newer IT modernization goals. One such measure that drove low scores is the fact that many agencies have not fully transitioned to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. Numerous agencies report that they are close to finalizing the plans to do so and could be compliant with this measure by the next report.

Data Centers Measurement Remain

While the compliance with the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) is no longer part of the FITARA scorecard, data center efficiencies will continue to be measured. The House Oversight Committee has asked for an accounting that agencies "have closed the maximum number of data centers possible." After that, data center metrics will focus more on the security of those remaining data centers.

Security Measurement Is In Flux

At first glance, the security scores of a number of agencies are alarmingly low, but the available data played a role in depressing scores. For this report, the committee relied solely on inspector general reports on the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Moving forward, the goal is to have FITARA measurement map to the same cyber priorities found in the administration's executive order on cybersecurity - including zero trust architecture, securing cloud computing environments, protecting high-value data and addressing supply chain incidents. Since compliance measures for these areas are already detailed in the EO, FITARA could serve as a way to measure agencies' ability to adopt practices such as real-time cybersecurity monitoring. The committee is working to improve the data they have access to for the next measurement.

Advocating for CIOs

Another area being examined for update was compliance with Chief Information Officer (CIO) authority goals. A large focus of FITARA was to empower agency CIOs by giving them a say in budget development and having them report directly to an agency secretary or deputy secretary. The release of the latest report included an announcement that the grading category for whether agency CIOs report to the agency secretary or deputy secretary will be sunset. Despite it being measured in report after report, many agencies have not met the requirements of CIO authority, so many are asking how to use these scores to enforce compliance. It remains to be seen how CIO empowerment will be measured (if it will at all) in future reports.

GovEvents and GovWhitepapers have a host of resources to help agencies, and the vendors that serve them, understand today's modernization goals and provide guidance on how to achieve them.

  • Adapt and Advance to Federal IT Modernization (webinar; September 8, 2022) - The federal government's IT modernization and cybersecurity enhancements have become increasingly abstract with competing priorities. Learn how to protect and modernize your IT infrastructure with Zero Trust and risk management.
  • Imagine Nation ELC 2022 (Hershey, PA; October 23-25, 2022) - This event brings together the government technology community to discuss the issues facing government and work together to develop practical solutions and innovative strategies.
  • IT Mod Talks (Arlington, VA; November 8, 2022) - Top decision-makers from government and tech discuss ongoing efforts in federal IT modernization, the continued move to modern, cloud-based systems, and what is in store with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.
  • Second Annual IT Modernization and Transformation Forum (virtual; November 10, 2022) - This forum invites distinguished military, government and industry officials to join in dynamic discussion focused on the nation's top IT challenges, opportunities, initiatives and solutions--and the implications these factors will have on the future of the GovCon ecosystem.
  • The IT Modernization Mission (eBook) - In this eBook, Nextgov highlights how agencies are tapping new funds to ditch legacy systems and address gaps in cybersecurity and service delivery.
  • Federal IT Modernization Needs a Strategy and More Money (white paper) - Despite a plethora of legislation, executive mandates, and other policy guidance to modernize aging federal IT infrastructure, agencies still need access to dedicated IT funding channels with more money and an overarching IT strategy to help guide them in how they fund IT initiatives.

You can find more information on Federal IT modernization tactics and trends on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

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