The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a status report on federal government technology reform progress, and it’s an insightful read more than anything on the the lack of synchronization between agencies and GAO.
The report is part of ongoing modernization efforts reviews related to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, enacted in December 2014 to hold agencies accountable for cutting costs and reducing redundancies in federal technology projects.
FITARA addresses seven areas of federal IT:
- Federal data center consolidation initiative
- Enhanced transparency and improved risk management
- Agency CIO authority enhancements
- Portfolio review
- Expansion of training and use of IT acquisition cadres
- Government-wide software purchasing program
- Maximizing the benefit of the federal strategic sourcing initiative
Because of the seeming discrepancies between what agencies have (or haven’t) reported and what GAO has assessed, it’s difficult to determine what’s truly the state of federal government IT. Nonetheless, the report is insightful in that it gives a great overview of the FITARA objectives and how success is being measured.
From GAO Director Information Technology Management Issues David Powner in his testimony to the House of Representatives Subcommittees on Government Operations and Information Technology, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:
These and other failed IT projects often suffered from a lack of disciplined and effective management, such as project planning, requirements definition, and program oversight and governance. In many instances, agencies had not consistently applied best practices that are critical to successfully acquiring IT investments.
Federal IT projects have also failed due to a lack of oversight and governance. Executive-level governance and oversight across the government has often been ineffective, specifically from chief information officers (CIO). For example, we have reported that not all CIOs had the authority to review and approve the entire agency IT portfolio and that CIOs’ authority was limited.