ACT-IAC releases benchmarking tool for FITARA

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Nonprofit trade group ACT-IAC has released a new set of recommendations to help agencies implement the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, a sweeping new law meant to improve how the government manages its IT assets.

Completed last month and released Thursday, the framework focuses on five areas where agencies should concentrate their FITARA implementation efforts: governance, budget, organization and workforce, program management, and acquisition. For each area, the report lists different characteristics that demonstrate three levels of maturity.

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The model lays out five areas where agencies should focus as they implement FITARA. Teams found that governance and program management topics cut across the remaining three areas, which are represented in this graphic as pillars. (ACT-IAC)

Fifty representatives from the public and private sectors worked in concert with the Office of Management and Budget to develop the model, which is part of a larger project to help agencies enact the new law.

“Agencies are responsible for complying with FITARA, but we recognized early on in the project that it is more than a compliance exercise, it really is about measuring how we manage and deliver information technology to support the mission,” said Darren Ash, speaking on behalf of the ACT-IAC project team that developed the model. Ash, who is CIO of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, co-led the group with Richard Spires, former Homeland Security Department CIO and now CEO of Resilient Network Systems.

Agencies should use the tool to advance to level three. The report encourages using pilots to improve, but emphasizes that “achieving a level of maturity requires that attribute be exhibited across all IT management in the agency.”

According a release from ACT-IAC, the Office of Management and Budget, inspectors general, and the Government Accountability Office can use the document to evaluate where agencies should improve. (ACT-IAC previewed plans for this project to FedScoop earlier this summer.)

While FITARA puts the onus on agencies to make their IT spending more transparent and enhances the budgetary authority of agency CIOs, many IT officials worry that FITARA may not succeed at improving the management of IT unless top agency leaders get behind it. IT officials and the OMB are eager to help agencies gain momentum in instituting FITARA’s requirements ahead of a new administration — and the inevitable turnover of top-level executives.

“This model will serve as a valuable resource for agencies to help them meet both the letter and spirit of FITARA,” Ash said.

The next step now, he said, is to pull together a collection of practices agencies could draw upon. He expects to have much of that work done in November.

Wyatt Kash contributed to this report.

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Agencies, Government IT News, Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
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