FITARA scorecard shows agencies making little progress

The top 24 federal agencies got their first report cards on implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) with depressing results for all but two.

The scorecards were compiled by the Government Accountability Office at the direction of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as a means of measuring agencies' progress on IT reform, particularly in four of the seven areas covered by FITARA.

More: Full scorecard [PDF] | Scoring methodology [PDF]

The GAO review scored agencies' progress in four areas highlighted within FITARA: data center consolidation, IT portfolio review savings, incremental development and risk assessment transparency. These grades were averaged to give each agency an overall letter grade.

The vast majority of grades on the scorecard are red, showing that agencies are failing to make the grade on these key security measures.

Most agencies received a D overall, failing in the most of the metrics but pulling through with passing grades in one or two areas.

While no one received an overall grade above a B, a few agencies obtained A rankings in specific areas:

  • Commerce got an A in data center consolidation and risk assessment transparency;
  • Homeland Security, the Justice Department and National Science Foundation received As for data center consolidation;
  • Housing and Urban Development and the Interior Department both received As for risk assessment transparency;
  • Treasury and GSA obtain A ratings for incremental development;
  • The Social Security Administration got an A for IT portfolio review savings; and
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and EPA both received top marks in incremental development and risk assessment transparency.

But the grades don't offer a direct comparison agency-to-agency, according to David Powner, director of IT management issues at GAO.

Around data center consolidation, for example, "Treasury and Transportation got Fs but we feel better about their Fs because they have high goals," Powner said. "But some agencies that have As and Bs with low goals have achieved more than their goals, we don't feel so good about those."

"It's not a secret that the IT acquisition process is broken," said IT Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. "While it is clear from these grades that no agency gets a gold star, some agencies … are making progress. There is a reason that no agency received an A: We have work to do."

The scorecard and Nov. 4 hearing are just the beginning of that work, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., a co-author of FITARA and ranking member of the Government Operations Subcommittee.

"It should not be considered a scarlet letter on the back of an agency," he said. "The intent isn't to punish or stigmatize; it is, in fact, to exhort and urge agencies to seize this opportunity and use this scorecard as a management tool to better guide decision making and investments within the agency."

"It's a baseline of where we are today," Federal CIO Tony Scott said of the results. "To me, the real measure will be six months, a year from now, did we really move the needle on these things?"

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