FITARA Scorecard Likely to See Changes in Near Future

The FITARA (Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act) Scorecard issued twice per year by the House Oversight and Reform Committee is likely to see some changes in the near term due to the need for new data sources, new policies, and shifting congressional priorities, said Kevin Walsh, FITARA executive at the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Speaking at an ACT-IAC event on July 31, Walsh said the most immediate change that will need to be made is a new method of measuring the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). With the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) finalizing its new approach to DCOI, the lack of existing data sources used for the scorecard caused complications in version 8.0 of the scorecard, and changes in the metrics will prompt changes for the next edition.

“What was previously used was a combination of savings, optimization metrics and closures. We can’t use many of those same metrics anymore because OMB has changed what it means to be a data center, so we can’t compare their closure numbers from the last go-around to this go-around,” said Walsh. “Chairman [Gerry] Connolly is laser-focused on data centers, so I hope to be able to include as much, with a robust methodology, as possible,” he added.

Looking a bit further down the road, changes in OMB’s Capital Planning Guidance mean that Portfolio Review will also need adjustment, as the data source used to assess agile methodology is going away in fiscal year 2021.

“On how this could be changed, I think the Hill will try to keep things as close to the existing methodology as possible, but I don’t know how that will change. I’m going to come up with some options to give to the Hill, and then what they ultimately choose will be up to them,” Walsh noted.

Looking forward – with a heavy grain of salt, and a disclaimer that Congress makes the decisions, not GAO – Walsh noted that new policies, like the 21st Century IDEA Act and the (still yet to be passed) FedRAMP Authorization Act, are on his radar as potential additions.

“I also keep an eye on current legislation they may be interested in or passed that could or should be graded … and think of if there is anything that could or should be graded related to that,” he said.

Walsh also noted that Congress can make the call to remove evaluation areas as well. When asked about the potential for the Software Licensing metric to phase out due to strong implementation by agencies, he noted that “problematically, I know of no other data source that could be used to grade it. However, I think if the scorecard were to ever eliminate an area, that would probably be one that would be a candidate. It’s close to saying, ‘As far as we can track it, that work is done.’”

With the further adoption of Technology Business Management principles in the Federal government, there could also be a data source to measure cloud adoption at agencies, although “certainly not this winter,” he noted.

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