FITARA 6.0: The Case of the Falling Scores

As summer vacation is in full swing across the country, we're sure many of you are missing tracking the grades of your students (insert sarcasm font here). We wanted to fill that void with a look at where agencies stand on their FITARA report cards. We've written here before about the progress, and lack of progress, agencies are making regarding modernizing IT infrastructure and services. The sixth report card on FITARA compliance was issued in May so we wanted to revisit the topic.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted in December 2014 and agencies are evaluated on their progress against the Act's goals about twice a year. The latest report found that despite a renewed focus on modernization from both the executive and legislative branch, agencies are actually backsliding in terms of grades.

Part of the challenge agencies had with this reporting period was the addition of a new category to track progress on the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. This "failure" should perhaps have been graded on a curve since MGT has only been in place since December 2017, meaning many agencies have not yet had a chance to have their proposals funded, much less started work.

But even discounting the MGT "learning curve," agency scores show that there is a real struggle across the board in meeting FITARA goals around: Continue reading

Department Spotlight: DoD – More Money, More Opportunity?

With the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018 passing in February, the defense discretionary funding cap was increased by $80 billion in FY2018 and $85 billion in FY2019. The DoD now has over $700 billion in their budget. This type of legislation is not unprecedented with BBAs issued in 2013 and 2015. However, the 2018 deal does stand out in terms of the amount of money added to funding caps.

So what are defense agencies doing with this influx of federal dollars? According to research from Market Connections, two thirds of Defense decision makers say that money will go toward projects that have been stalled due to budget disagreements and continuing resolutions. This means that agencies are not necessarily investing in net new work, rather using the influx to put existing plans and programs into action. Those projects getting the kick start range widely, with a large portion involving cybersecurity, modernization initiatives, and training. Continue reading

Data Centers Continue Their Starring Role

 

Around this same time last year we wrote about the federal government's focus on consolidating data centers for better IT efficiency. The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) that is driving changes across government has extended its deadlines for agency compliance. Originally, agencies were to meet a variety of consolidation, energy efficiency, and cost reduction goals by the end of calendar year 2018. With fewer than one in five Federal data center leaders saying that their data center was on track to meet their DCOI goals, an extension seemed inevitable. Now, agencies have until 2020 to install energy metering tools, use automated monitoring and operations, maximize floor space use in existing data centers, reduce data center costs by 25%, in addition to a number of other cost savings and efficiency goals.

In addition to DCOI, agencies are also looking to comply with the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) that looks at government IT as a whole, incorporating data centers into the overall plans to modernize how government procures and uses technology for citizen service.

A third driver for modernizing the data center is the desire to do more with the data we have. No longer is a data center a place to store information, it is a place to interact with information. Continue reading

Continuing Efforts to Make Cloud a Government Reality

Cloud Computing has moved from a fringe technology that agencies were willing to try to a mainstream part of IT strategy and infrastructure. CloudFirst guidance from the executive branch got agencies looking at cloud as an option as they modernize systems. FedRAMP provided a standard for cloud security for government, easing the fears that a move to cloud meant a less secure system. Agencies have provided a host of guidance on how to use the cloud in their particular environments and for their missions. The intelligence community even went so far as to design a cloud that meets the specific needs of its users.

But even with this growing comfort, it's been a slow implementation process. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security set up a cloud steering group after realizing that of their 584 applications only 29 were currently in the cloud, and another 52 were in the process of moving. They understood the cost and performance benefits of cloud but needed a way to accelerate the move. Beyond the technical aspect of designing cloud for government, there are also policy issues including a Supreme Court-level discussion of how and when cloud providers have to release data that they store. Continue reading

The Value of Vendor-Led Events

On the surface it may seem easy to write off vendor-organized events as one big sales ploy, but by doing so, you may miss out on valuable professional development and experiences. While admittedly vendors put on events to drive sales, these events are not just a long sales pitch. Instead, they are designed to educate the audience on solutions to the challenges they are facing day in and day out. And yes, that vendor's solution may "just so happen" to provide the technology and functionality being discussed, but that does not mean there is nothing to gain by attending.[Tweet "While vendors put on events to drive sales, they are not just long sales pitches. #GovEventsBlog"]

Here are several reasons to add vendor-driven events to your 2018 calendar:

  • No one does it alone. The reality is in today's complex IT and data environment there is a wide variety of solutions that have to work together to get business done. Organizations need to understand how different technologies work together. Vendor-driven events provide an opportunity for discussion and hands-on demos. Take a glance at the agenda for vendor-led events and you'll typically see speakers and presenters from several different companies. Shows that do offer multiple presenters are more likely to be well-rounded and offer numerous ways to approach key challenges.
  • Government speaks. You'll often see government professionals discussing their successes (and failures) at most vendor-driven shows. What we hear again and again from our vendor partners is that government representatives are hungry to talk about what's working and to collaborate with peers. You won't hear endorsements from these government speakers, only the straight facts about what they implemented and how it worked.
  • Find your ROI. The reality is that government agencies at all levels are invested in technology brands. Knowing everything you can about what that technology offers helps you to get the most out of that investment. The chance to get hands-on with solutions under the guidance of the people who designed it is an incredible opportunity that you cannot get in your day-to-day work.[Tweet "Several reasons to add vendor-driven events to your 2018 calendar. #GovEventsBlog"]

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