Sep 08 2015

Federal CIO Grades Agencies on FITARA Plans

Satisfied with the FITARA action plans he’s seen, federal CIO Tony Scott has issued a formal assessment.

In August, federal agencies turned in their blueprints for the implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, better known as FITARA. The act, the most dramatic IT overhaul since 1996’s Clinger-Cohen Act, was created to identify and eliminate inefficiencies within federal agencies. After a review of the action plans, federal CIO Tony Scott says he liked the bulk of what he saw.

The FITARA plans were intended to provide summaries of how each agency will follow the guidelines it set. Noting that none of the plans were “perfect,” Scott issued a strong average grade for what he saw. “Overall, I'd give it a B-plus in terms of the work I've seen,” he told the Federal Times.

Last month, Scott spoke at a FITARA forum that was organized to help federal agencies understand exactly what the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expected of their plans. According to the Federal Times, Scott said the agencies responded well to the self-assessment exercise, because they were clear on what was being asked of them.

“One of the benefits of the pretty public work that we did in sharing where we were going with the FITARA guidance is that it's been out there a pretty long time — it didn't come as a surprise to anybody,” Scott explained. Furthermore, each plan featured an element that was representative of the respective agency that created it.

“You can see every agency's personality show up in the plan they've submitted,” Scott said.

Although the response to the plans has been generally positive, the Federal Times reports that the OMB still identified areas that need improvement:

"We're seeing opportunities where our guidance could be clarified a little bit more," Scott said. "And we've seen some great examples of agencies really taking this on and being explicit about how they're changing their governance process and the role of the CIO in the agency."

A survey conducted by public–private partnership MeriTalk last month found that 84 percent of federal IT executives supported FITARA. Even though there’s room for refinement, that enthusiasm can be seen in the quality of their plans.


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