Nov 30 2022

How to Update the FITARA Scorecard Now That Agencies Are Scoring Well

The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council recently issued a report offering specific suggestions for scorecard updates.

As agencies begin to score well on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act scorecard, which measures success in IT modernization efforts, some are suggesting the benchmarks should be updated to reflect changes in the modernization process and remove categories that no longer need to be monitored. For example, after the 14th FITARA scorecard was released this summer, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Government Accountability Office suggested that data center closures, once a key metric, might be dropped from future scorecards because agencies have already closed or consolidated so many.

The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) recently issued a report detailing suggestions for scorecard updates that could have a positive impact on federal agency IT management capabilities. These include categories to measure progress on agile and DevSecOps, zero trust and cloud migration.

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Adapting to a Changing Landscape

Calls for updates to the scorecard come at a time of exponential technological change, evolving cyberthreats and societal uncertainties.

“The pace of technological change just continues to accelerate,” said Dave Wennergren, CEO at ACT-IAC. “And as we’ve gone through the pandemic, we’ve recognized that this world of uncertainty will be with us forever in one form or another.”

As a result, certain sections of the scorecard have become more prominent than others. For an accurate evaluation of federal agencies, the scorecard’s elements need to align to the issues that are most important to those agencies. Without such changes, an agency’s grade won’t accurately indicate the success of its modernization efforts.

RELATED: How the FITARA scorecards are spurring IT modernization.

ACT-IAC’s Proposed Recommendations

The ACT-IAC’s report makes seven recommendations, each proposing to revise, expand or evolve key sections of the scorecard. At a high level, the recommendations call for further emphasis on evaluating certain criteria, such as:

  • Adhering to an IT modernization plan
  • Shifting to zero-trust architecture
  • Moving to the cloud
  • Giving CIOs proper authority
  • Creating an IT workforce that addresses industry staffing issues

The ACT-IAC’s report also offers detailed explanations of new scoring methodologies FITARA could implement to adjust to the changing categories, along with how to collect relevant data to inform new scores and how to revise categories in the future. 

EXPLORE: How CDW’s IT services can assist agencies on the road to digital transformation.

A Shift from Oversight to Outcomes

As Wennergren notes, the ACT-IAC is shifting to a more outcomes-driven focus: “There's a big difference between focusing on outcomes and just doing oversight. In our mind, measures that are more about outcomes — and tracking progress against those outcomes — are better.”

For example, a count of actual data centers served as a metric to justify reducing them. However, it’s possible for agencies to reduce data centers without making any progress on IT modernization. Instead, the scorecard could measure how well agencies adhere to modernization plans by assigning higher grades when they deliver on key acquisitions and retire legacy systems that are challenging to secure and maintain. The goal is for an agency’s grade to more accurately reflect how well it’s making strides to modernize.

“Helping to move an agency toward better outcomes is like a high tide raising all boats,” Wennergren said.

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