GAO Highlights FITARA, Longstanding IT Acquisition Problems

GAO government accountability office

A new report published today by the Government Accountability Office is calling attention to persistent agency difficulties in complying with the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), as well as difficulties with finding skilled acquisition professionals across the Federal government.

While the new report calls out a wide range of acquisition activities–including those of Congress, the military, and Federal agencies’ reforms to their processes–and spans a range of acquisitions from military aircraft to regular maintenance, it does have some notable takeaways for the Federal technology workforce.

“As of 2018, Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations remains on our High Risk List because agencies have not completely implemented certain FITARA requirements as implemented by OMB or addressed a number of our recommendations,” GAO said.

The report goes on to outline the various FITARA scorecard categories, expounding on some of the less than savory findings of the most recent round of agency grading. GAO flagged that many agencies are still failing to “ensure CIOs review and approve all IT contracts prior to award.”

“In January 2018, we found that officials at 14 of 22 selected agencies did not identify, or help identify, IT acquisitions for CIO review,” GAO said.

GAO also cited struggles regarding the use of incremental development in IT projects, and the lack of comprehensive software license inventories at Federal agencies.

On a wider basis, GAO highlighted some of the long-standing IT-related challenges that “endure over a decade later,” following the final report on acquisitions released in 2007 by the Acquisition Advisory Panel–a body established by Congress.

“Despite improvements in the acquisition workforce, finding workers with the technical knowledge for complex IT purchases is still difficult,” GAO said.

The agency is not making any new recommendations with the release of the new report, but again stressed that many of its recommendations regarding Federal acquisitions–such as tasking the Office of Management and Budget to “take steps to improve how agencies collect certain procurement data”– remain unaddressed.

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