Next month will mark a year that FITARA has been in effect. Yet, Chief Information Officers (CIO) and their executive staff continue to wrestle with how to maneuver the legislation in order to effectually align compliance with individual agency mission. As a result, the last year has been a testing ground of sorts for many CIOs, where they have learned what works what doesn’t.
To that end, earlier this week CIOs across multiple agencies came together to discuss FITARA and their effectiveness in implementing it. Among the agencies present were Department of Commerce (DoC), Department of Transportation (DoT) as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Steve Cooper- CIO, DoC- shared that “The practical side of this [FITARA] will vary by agency.” However, Cooper also explained that FITARA “reinforces that while CIOs are going to be held accountable; this is a joint effort.” Cooper also concurred that CIOs will have to work collaboratively with their Chief Acquisitions Officers and Chief Financial Officers in driving the principles and outcomes of FITARA. Highlighting that DoC is leveraging FITARA in an innovative way, Cooper explained that DoC is researching utilizing FITARA as a means to invest in shared services.
CIO of DoT, Richard McKinney has different plans for FITARA. McKinney acknowledged, “We [CIOs] are a long way from where we need to be [but] I came out of the hearing very optimistic that while there’s an accountability side to FITARA, they [Congress] are also extending a hand. They want to help.”
McKinney shared he plans to utilize FITARA “to set a baseline,” and clarified, “we [CIOs] don’t have a standard taxonomy for IT spend…I want an as is blue print. I want to know where we are right now.”
Despite FITARA’s perceived challenges, Joyce Hunter-Deputy CIO for Policy and Planning, USDA- has already made significant change. She and her team were recently recognized by the Office of Management and Budget for having one of the best FITARA Common Baseline submissions.
Hunter explained that USDA’s approach to FITARA compliance is to first acknowledge that they “need to put real teeth in [their] acquisition and approval process.” Likening FITARA to a Rubik’s cube, she conveyed that USDA’s current approach deconstructs “the Rubik’s cube and exposes every single aspect of [each] acquisition.”
The talk ended with more discussion of the need for collaboration and innovation as FITARA moves into its second year with Hunter imploring for “more interagency collaboration.”
She ended by asking those in attendance, “why are we developing things 5-7 times over…I think being able to share services across agencies is where we need to go moving forward.” Cooper, on the other hand, shared that what we really need to focus on moving forward is to “Simplify IT acquisition.”
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