8 agencies receive lower FITARA grades following scoring changes
The FITARA grades of eight agencies have fallen after the House Oversight Committee revised the methodology used to assess federal government departments’ IT modernization progress.
Agencies whose scorecard grades decreased were the departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Transportation, and the Treasury; Environmental Protection Agency; National Science Foundation; and Office of Personnel Management.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was the only agency whose grade increased from a C- to a B.
FITARA scorecard grades were first issued in November 2015 as a means of monitoring agencies’ progress in implementing cybersecurity and IT modernization improvements required under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). They are issued twice a year by the Government Accountability Office.
Recent changes to the assessment methodology included the retiring the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) component.
FITARA requires agency chief information officers (CIOs) to certify IT investments are achieving incremental development, and committee staff reverted to letting CIOs self-certify software development projects for the 14.0 scorecard. The 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies reported one more acting CIO than in January, bringing the total to three.
Lawmakers made changes to the grading methodology after all agencies received As on the FITARA 13.0 scorecard in January and the cybersecurity component was adjusted due to a lack of cross-agency priority (CAP) goal data.
Agencies’ FITARA grades stagnated in the last two scorecards, which Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., attributed to a failure to incentivize them to improve their IT — given the limited data available and tight six-month turnaround for grading. Connolly chairs the Government Operations subcommittee that holds hearings on the scorecard like the one Thursday morning.
Despite the changes in methodology for FITARA 14.0, 15 agencies’ grades remained the same. That number would have been 20 under the old methodology, and four agencies would have increased their grades.
Committee staff replaced the scorecard’s DCOI component with a new data center consolidation component addressing future planned closures, which is previewed but not included in agencies’ overall grades yet. Seven agencies have no plans for future data center closures.
Agencies continue to struggle with the transition from the General Services Administration’s expiring telecommunications contracts to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract for network and infrastructure modernization. They were expected to be 90% transitioned by March and 100% transitioned by September.
Eleven agencies received Fs for their EIS transitions, four fewer than last time. GSA, itself, raised its F grade to a D since January.