May 23 2018

FITARA Scores Drop in the Newest Report

No perfect marks, but new requirements made it tougher for agencies to score highly.

Agencies fared poorly in the new FITARA scorecard released this week, with 11 of the 24 receiving lower grades since the last scorecard was released in November and none receiving the top mark of A.

The report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, however, noted that many of the lower scores were the result of new and tougher requirements on the scorecard; without the new requirements, three agencies would have scored an A.

The scorecard is mandated by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act to measure how well agencies comply with technology initiatives and goals.

The General Services Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Education Department all scored the highest, each with a B+. The Defense Department received the only failing mark, while eight others received D’s and 12 got C’s.

"I want to note that we assign these grades not to shame agencies, but rather to incentivize certain behaviors that will save money and increase security,” said Rep. Will Hurd, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on IT, in a prepared statement.

Most agencies were affected by the need to report their progress on creating a working capital fund as part of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which will help them transition away from legacy systems; this was a new component of the scorecard, and most had not instituted an MGT-related fund yet.

Another requirement — that CIOs report to an agency head — was met by only 15 of the 24 agencies. FITARA requires CIOs to have a significant role in agency IT decisions, but “given the history of federal IT failures, this is a concern,” the report said.

Without those scorecard segments, the Health and Human Services Department would have raised its grade from a D to an A; the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (which received an A in November, the only agency ever to do so) would have also received A’s.

Many agencies also fared poorly on efforts to inventory their software licensing agreements, with 14 failing, two receiving C’s and eight receiving A’s for using their inventories to make cost-effective decisions. The agencies that failed all have inventories under way.

“We have to move from just looking at and collecting basic information to collecting information that provides value to IT departments and enterprises,” Hurd said during a hearing on the scorecard on Wednesday.

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