The FITARA (Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act) Scorecard issued every six months by the House Oversight and Reform Committee could benefit from updates to some of its Federal agency IT scoring categories, several panelists said Oct. 22 at the ACT-IAC Imagine Nation 2019 conference.

Dave Powner, former director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office and a key player in helping the House committee formulate the scorecard, said the scoring process began in 2015 with only four categories, but the choice of those was “very strategic” and intended to drive improvements in specific areas of agency performance.

In some of those areas – like software licensing and CIO reporting authorities – agencies have improved their performance, Powner said. He suggested that the House committee “move on” from some of the categories where 70-80 percent of agencies have improved their scores, and swap those out for new categories where Congress wants to see more agency progress.

New FITARA Scorecard categories could include mission modernization, mission fulfillment, workforce development, progress on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contracts, and

customer satisfaction, Powner suggested.

“Whatever you want to drive, give it a grade,” advised Powner, who is now director of strategic engagement and partnerships at MITRE Corp.

And at some point down the road, he suggested, Congress and the administration should “come together a little bit” and issue a scorecard that has their joint stamp of approval.

“The key is Congress and the Office of Management and Budget – the more they can get on the same page the better off we are,” Powner said.

Current and former Federal agency CIOs speaking during the same panel session had good things to say about the FITARA Maturity Model. Jonathan Alboum, former CIO at the Agriculture Department (USDA), commented, “It certainly helped – it didn’t solve everything – but it was a good tool.”

Maria Roat, CIO at the Small Business Administration (SBA), noted how SBA’s FITARA score went from an “F” grade to a “B-“ in three years, and said of the FITARA Maturity Model, “I’ve gone back to that many times to take a look at how we are doing … I still use that.”

Renee Wynn CIO at NASA, said the starting point of several IT successes at the agency “began with FITARA, because that’s when the agency began to pay attention” to its grades.

Former Federal CIO Tony Scott said that any scorecard of Federal agency IT progress should measure customer service “every day, all the time.” He also suggested better measurements of not only technical debt, but also IT architecture debt, and what he called “policy and process debt.” He added, “You’ve got to clean the dust out of the attic” on older policy goals that are no longer relevant.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.