What is FITARA?
Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, is U.S. legislation passed in December 2014 that puts federal agency CIOs in control of IT investments. FITARA is a law that requires U.S. federal agencies to provide the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with:
- a comprehensive inventory of data centers
- a strategy to consolidate and optimize their data centers (including performance metrics, timelines, investment and cost savings plans)
- quarterly progress reports on the agency’s strategy
- The OMB will provide a process for agencies to review their IT investment portfolios to reduce duplication and waste, consolidate acquisition and management functions, and increase cost savings.
Who is impacted by FITARA (which government agencies)?
- Department of Agriculture (USDA),
- Department of Commerce,
- Department of Defense (DOD),
- Department of Education,
- Department of Energy (DOE),
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),
- Department of the Interior,
- Department of Justice (DOJ),
- Department of Labor,
- Department of State,
- Department of Transportation (DOT),
- Department of the Treasury,
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA),
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),
- General Services Administration (GSA),
- National Science Foundation (NSF),
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC),
- Office of Personnel Management (OPM),
- Small Business Administration (SBA),
- Social Security Administration, and military departments (Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.)
FITARA was enacted in response to specific federal IT challenges:
- Duplicate IT spending between and within agencies
- Struggle to understand cost & performance of IT investments
- Lack of visibility into IT spend
- Inability to benchmark IT spend within federal entities and between federal and private-sector counterparts
FITARA helps solve these challenges because it both requires greater transparency for agency IT spending, and gives the agency CIOs the authority to address the challenges and improve efficiencies.
What are the objectives of FITARA?
- The legislation specifically identified 10 objectives, including:
- Aligning IT resources with agency missions and requirements
- Strengthening federal agency CIOs’ accountability for IT costs, performance, and security
- Enabling effective planning, programming, budget and execution for IT resources
- Providing transparency into IT resources across agencies and programs
Whose job is it to be accountable to FITARA?
Each federal agency’s dedicated CIO is responsible for FITARA compliance.
FITARA Scoring: How it works
The quarterly GAO scorecard focuses on four areas:
- Data Center Consolidation – this includes an inventory of data centers and a strategy for consolidating and optimizing the data centers including planned cost savings. The scorecard grades are based on the percentage of planned savings achieved.
- IT Portfolio Review Savings – each agency’s total portfolio savings divided by its total IT budget. The result is compared to the leading agency’s ratio.
- Incremental Development – the percentage of an agency’s IT projects with major it development investments that delivered functionality every 6 months (rather than delivering functionality several years in the future).
- Risk Assessment Transparency – this is an assessment of risk and the investment’s ability to accomplish its goals. The calculation rewards the agencies that are reporting more risk, due to a string of high-profile federal IT failures and the concern that CIO risk assessments are overly optimistic and not realistic. However, high risk IT investments over multiple consecutive quarters requires CIOs to review, identify, and address them.
FITARA Scoring: Biggest Challenges
The first scorecards, compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in November 2015 revealed that out of 24 agencies, only two scored an overall grade of “B”, and 17 scored “D or F”. No federal agency scored an “A” overall grade.
The challenges FITARA addresses are not unique to the public sector. The private sector faces the same challenges, and have created resources and best practices to solve them. The TBM (Technology Business Management) Council – governed by a group of CIO executives from the world’s leading companies, including Huntington Ingalls Industries, Verizon, Northup Grumman, and Apptio – have already cracked the code to driving efficiencies into IT spend. The TBM Council is working with Federal IT leaders to adapt key private sector learnings and standards to government needs and FITARA requirements.