FITARA Scorecard to Evolve with Next Iteration

Published: January 26, 2022

Federal Market AnalysisData CenterGAOInformation TechnologyPolicy and Legislation

Last week’s House Oversight Subcommittee hearing on the FITARA 13.0 scorecard revealed changes are in store for FITARA grading metrics in the future.

The most recent FITARA scorecard shows all agencies received a “C” or above and 50% received an “A” or “B” overall.

The graph below shows agencies' overall FITARA grades over time:

In the latest scorecard, categories with the highest grades include Data Center Optimization with all agencies receiving “A” grades, and Agency CIO Authority Enhancements with 16 agencies receiving “A”s and “B”s.

Transitioning off Networx and migrating to EIS contracts showed the worst performance from agencies with 15 “F”s.

In a report released at the time of the hearing, GAO stated, “The biannual scorecards have served as effective tools for monitoring federal agencies’ efforts in implementing statutory requirements and addressing other important IT issues.” The report also stated that “Going forward, it will be important for Congress to continue adapting oversight tools, such as the biannual scorecards, to meet the advancing federal IT landscape.”

Since its launch, the FITARA scorecard categories have been adapted to cover critical areas of IT oversight and modernization, such as modernizing government technology, cybersecurity, and EIS migration.

During the hearing, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the subcommittee, stated “To continue driving progress, the scorecard needs to evolve to reflect the changing nature of IT services and to guarantee we are accurately assessing the modernization and IT management practices of federal agencies. The goal here is to incentivize progress, not to get a gold star on our foreheads.”

Because all agencies received “A” grades for data center consolidation, the committee indicated that this category would sunset with the next scorecard.  However, Connolly was quick to point out that, “[this] is not to be construed as a ‘mission accomplished’ moment by any means.” Definitions of data centers have been a hot-button issue for the subcommittee for the last eight years.

Carol Harris, GAO Director of IT and Cybersecurity, testified that since 2010 agencies have closed more than 6,800 data centers and saved or avoided spending more than $6.6 billion.

Hearing witnesses offered a number of ideas for new or revised FITARA metrics. Cybersecurity topped the list. Carol Harris, Director of IT and Cybersecurity at the GAO, suggested using the Biden administration’s cyber executive order and IT supply chain risk management as part of a revised cyber metric.

Witnesses also suggested measuring how agencies are addressing the hiring and training of the IT workforce.

Other suggestions for new FITARA categories include IT budget and planning, replacing legacy IT systems, customer experience, and procurement innovation.

David Powner, the former director of IT issues at GAO and now executive director of MITRE’S Center for Data-Driven Policy stated, “It is critical that the updates to the scorecard are coordinated with the federal CIO and OMB since they have been and will be the source of most of the data used in the grading process.”

Aligning the FITARA scorecard metrics with the administration’s goals such as focusing the Technology Modernization Fund on IT modernization, cyber, and potentially customer experience projects could provide synergy between FITARA and the White House’s federal IT goals.