FITARA's Future

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was passed in 2014 to streamline the way the federal government purchases and manages their technology.  The bill granted significant budgetary authority to CIOs in government, requiring CIO signoff on any IT contracts and having CIOs approve annual IT budget requests to Congress.

As with any major change, it’s important to understand how its implementation will occur, and vague language in parts of the bill allow for interpretation at each agency.  As the roles and authority of CIOs have been defined so too have the metrics being used to grade the agencies.  The Government Accountability Office has been releasing biannual scorecards that have added metrics over the years to more accurately depict the true standing of each agency.

The scores on these scorecards started out in 2015 with frankly abysmal marks.  The vast majority of agencies received an overall grade of “D” and had plenty of room for improvement.

It was a slow start for most agencies.

It was a slow start for most agencies.

Since this original scorecard was released, an additional four categories have been added; software licensing, CIO org chart considerations, and compliance with both the Modernizing Government Technology and Federal Information Security Management Acts all made the bill in the latest iteration.

This is unlikely to be the last change that’s made to the scorecard, according to an analyst who assembles the data for these measurements.  Some of the changes that have even been regarding language as different agencies have interpreted the questions in different ways.

The same analyst believes that the focus of the next changes to the scorecard will revolve around data centers.  Currently, the policy on data centers is focused on ‘optimization,’ which doesn’t offer clear cut guidelines as to what progress would look like.  More detailed metrics will give agencies the guidelines they need to make measurable progress in this area.

As government agencies finish the work in these important areas, some criteria may drop off the scorecard as well.  In the ‘software licensing’ category, all but four agencies were graded with an ‘A.’  Once the work is done and the proper frameworks are in place, the FITARA scorecard should be updated to reflect where further work needs to be done.

In the end, agencies should be proud of the progress they’ve made, but expect new goals and milestones to be incrementally added to the scorecard.

At Extract, we aim to help government agencies realize efficiencies in their technology through automation.  Whether an agency needs to retrieve discrete data from unstructured documents or redact sensitive information from documents available to the public, we can empower their staff to work on tasks more suited for human intervention.  If you’d like to learn more about how we can automate your documents, please reach out today.

About the Author: Chris Mack

Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.