During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing today to discuss the newly-released 14th installment of the committee’s FITARA Scorecard, several Federal chief information officers (CIOs) agreed the scorecard serves as a useful tool for their agencies to track IT-related performance, but also offered recommendations on how the scorecard could improve.

The FITARA 14.0 Scorecard revealed that the 24 largest Federal agencies trended toward lower grades across several IT-related performance categories for the first half of 2022. The committee said the downward trend had less to do with specific agency performance and more to do with scorecard category and methodology changes by the committee.

As always, the easiest way to figure out the committee’s multicolored scorecard is to view the data on MeriTalk’s FITARA Dashboard.

Focus on Legacy IT

Carol Harris, the director of IT and cybersecurity at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said the FITARA Scorecard is “generally an accurate reflection” of where agencies are in their IT progress, but said she believes the scorecard “needs to evolve to ensure that it maintains its effectiveness as we look at new and emerging areas.”

One area Harris highlighted that could benefit from an addition to the scorecard is legacy IT, and how agencies are moving to retire older systems.

Harris explained that within the area of IT portfolio management, FITARA has pushed agencies to identify a reduction in “commodity” IT. Legacy IT could benefit from a similar push, she said, by applying that same portfolio management process – “because to date we’ve just focused on commodity IT.”

“I think we can replicate that same success in the legacy IT management area, because what the law will provide – if it’s enacted properly for legacy IT – is it will have a systematic dialogue between senior executive leaders in the agencies and the Federal CIO, as well as Congress, to identify the legacy IT systems in need of most attention,” Harris said.

“And perhaps one of the metrics that we could use on the scorecard is to change it from measuring cost savings to measuring progress made in decommissioning these antiquated systems,” she added.

Promoting Collaboration

David Shive, CIO at the General Services Administration (GSA), agreed that the committee can “utilize many of the mechanisms already in place to repeat some of those successes in new areas.”

One example, he said, is by continuing to invest time and effort into FITARA’s strategic reviews, governance processes, and utilization of shared services. However, his biggest recommendation centered around collaboration between agencies.

“I would suggest that one of the most powerful ways to utilize the scorecard would be to measure meaningful change and rewarding agencies helping each other to be successful,” Shive said. “The best outcome for the Federal government will come through strategies that promote collaboration rather than competition.”

He suggested that those agencies who score lower in a particular category could be paired with an agency that has leading successful practices in place, which he said would “lead to greater success for everyone.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the committee’s Government Operations Subcommittee and driving force behind legislative efforts to promote Federal IT modernization, welcomed the suggestions from the witnesses, and said he wants to make sure the scorecard is “as accurate a gauge as we can make it.”

“I’ve found it heartening to hear from CIOs – and you’re not the only CIOs we’ve heard from – who have found both FITARA and the scorecard useful tools inside the agency to push for that progress,” Chairman Connolly told the witnesses. “And that’s really a key part of what we’re trying to do here.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.