Exclusive: Auditors call out feds over missed FITARA deadlines


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Federal agencies and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget have failed to meet early requirements related to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, according to a new Government Accountability Office report obtained by FedScoop.

The report, which will be released during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s IT subcommittee hearing on FITARA Wednesday afternoon, finds that none of the 24 agencies that the law covers have made their action plans publicly available, as they were scheduled to do so once they recieved approval from OMB. The report also finds that the President’s Management Council blew a June 30 deadline to select three Federal CIO Council members who would be tasked with updating FITARA implementation efforts every quarter.

Beyond FITARA, the GAO says it has made around 800 recommendations over the last six years to OMB and federal agencies to improve IT acquisitions and operations, but only 32 percent have been used.

“With the recent passage of IT reform legislation, the federal government has an opportunity to improve the transparency and management of IT acquisition and operations, and strengthen the authority of CIOs to provide needed direction and oversight,” the report reads. “OMB and federal agencies should expeditiously implement the requirements of the legislation and continue to implement our previous recommendations.”

The report stresses that federal IT has been considered a “high-risk” area by GAO since February, and points to examples that have yet to be considered or put into action by the executive branch.

A portion of the report calls for better reviews of troubled programs and operational systems, which are supposed to happen under initiatives already in place. The GAO points out that only one TechStat session — a face-to-face meeting held to terminate or turn around troubled agency IT investments — has taken place between March 2013 and October 2015.

It also highlights reports from the past 18 months that called for better financial management through PortfolioStat, tighter control of software licensing and better oversight of agencies’ mobile inventory.

Wednesday’s hearing will not be the first on the law’s implementation. During a House Oversight hearing in June, David Powner, director of IT management issues for the GAO, said agencies will struggle to adapt to changes pushed forth by FITARA.

“History tells us if you leave it up to the administration — OMB and the agencies — it doesn’t work well,” Powner, who also wrote Wednesday’s report, said in June.

Wednesday’s hearing will be held at 2 p.m. GSA CIO David Shive and Transportation Department CIO Richard McKinney are expected to testify.

Read the full GAO report below.

Clarification 11/3/15:

A previous version of this article stated that agencies were to make portions of their plans publicly available as of mid-September. Agencies needed OMB approval before those plans were publicly released.

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Agencies, Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Government Accountability Office (GAO), Office of Management and Budget (OMB)