Added Categories Cause Agency FITARA Scores to Drop

Published: May 24, 2018

Government PerformanceInformation TechnologyIT Reform

Grades plunged for eleven agencies on the latest FITARA scorecard, which is aimed at capturing federal progress toward IT reform.

This most recent scorecard is the sixth iteration of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) grading of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) implementation. Grades also reflect progress toward implementing the Making Electronic Government Accountable By Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act of 2016 (MEGABYTE). This time around, the scorecard incorporates a new category for the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act and lowers the overall grades of those agencies who’s CIOs don’t report directly to the agency head.  It also previews a new category related to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA).

Agencies were graded based on seven categories:

  • Incremental Development
  • Transparency and Risk Management
  • Portfolio Review
  • Data Center Optimization
  • Software Licensing
  • Modernizing Government Technology (Whether the agency has a working capital fund for IT modernization)
  • CIO Reporting (Does the CIO report directly to the head of the agency)

Of the 24 agencies covered by the FITARA legislation, five showed improvement and eight maintained their previous grade since the last scores were released in November 2017.

No agency received an A on this report card. USAID is the only agency to ever receive an overall grade of A on a FITARA scorecard.  USAID received an overall grade of A- on the last two report cards, but slipped to a C- on this most recent report. Overall, three agencies received Bs, twelve received Cs, eight received Ds, and one received an F.  Department of Defense received an F for the third grading period in a row.

The five agencies who showed improvement include DOE, HHS, DOL, DOT and NSF.  Those that fell include USDA, DOC, DHS, DOJ, State, Treasury, VA, NRC, OPM, SBA and USAID. 

Much of the grade reduction can be attributed to the new categories added to the grading methodology.  The overall grade of nine agencies was lowered because the associated CIO does not report to the head of the agency. The addition of the MGT area also impacted several agencies. Three agencies grades were lowered due to MGT and CIO reporting (HHS, DOJ, and USAID). In the absence of the new categories, there would have been three As (HHS, GSA, and USAID), and 5 Bs (DOC, Ed., DOJ, DOl, and NSF).

Additionally the Subcommittee on IT under the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing Wednesday to review the new FITARA scorecard, and conduct a deeper dive into the scores of USDA and DOD.

During the hearing, Dave Powner, Director of IT Management Issues at GAO, offered key highlights on progress being made with FITARA implementation:

•  Incremental Development - Plans to use incremental software development have increased from 58% government-wide on the first scorecard to 87% today.

•  Data Centers – Collectively the government closed about 7,000 data centers and saved nearly $4B.

•  Software Licensing – Agencies with software inventories have increased from only three a year ago, to ten today.  And associated cost savings from licensing consolidation has grown from $50M to $340M in savings this year.

•  CIO Reporting – Four agencies have changed their reporting structure so that the CIO reports directly to the agency head.

Subcommittee Chairman William Hurd (D-TX) pointed out that scores could be dramatically increased if agencies complied with three of the criteria: CIO reporting, software licensing, and MGT working capital funds.

During the hearing, DOD CIO Dana Deasey who has only been on the job 13 days, said that he believes all of the FITARA scorecard requirements are things that a good IT organization should be doing anyway.