Third FITARA Scorecard Released: CIO Authority Enhancements Holds Most Agencies Back

Published: December 07, 2016

Data CenterInformation TechnologyIT ReformIT Workforce

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the latest version of the FITARA Scorecard where agencies, except for one, improved or sustained their grades.

Congress released the third version of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) to hold agencies accountable for the modernization of their IT infrastructures. Overall, 12 agencies fared better in their scores since May 2016 with 11 agencies sustaining the same score and one, the Department of Transportation, earning a lower grade since the last report card. Agencies are graded based on the following subjects:

  • Federal Data Center Consolidation (FDCCI)
  • Portfolio Review
  • Transparency and Risk Management
  • Agency CIO Authority Enhancements

This time around, a “plus” or “minus” was added to the grade based on whether or not agency CIOs reported directly to the Secretary or Deputy Secretary. With an overall score of B+, Commerce, Interior, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and Social Security Administration earned the highest grades. The most notable increase goes to NASA, whose grade jumped from an F to C+, primarily due to success in data center consolidation. Transportation’s dropped score from a D to F+ is the only failing overall grade on the scorecard.

Growing up in a household where anything less than a B was insufficient, the amount of D’s and F’s in the CIO Authority Enhancements column is glaring. Thirteen agencies failed out of the 21 agencies that were rated in that category. In a December 6th hearing, Congress also targeted the CIO structure and reporting within agencies as a major concern. Lawmakers highlighted the importance of the ability of a CIO to report directly to agency heads. In doing so, it enables the CIO to properly oversee the technology for their agencies and is vital due to the evolving nature of IT.

Federal News Radio reports that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) stated at the hearing “Secretaries of agencies, division heads and likewise ignoring the critical role of CIOs in FITARA implementation and directing IT investments defeats the very purpose of the [FITARA] law. We find some agencies are struggling to elevate the CIO position to its appropriate management level.”

Likewise, David Powner, director of IT management issues at GAO, also added that “Too many times agencies are throwing money at bad projects, so if CIOs can manage the risk and halt bad projects, then you have the right authorities. Having support from the top helps you do that.”

Powner also stated that additional improvements are needed across the government for effective implementation of FITARA and IT cost savings, including continued data center consolidation. It looks like agencies still have some work to do in the next six months to bring home those better grades.