5 Years Later and FITARA Remains Relevant

By Tara Franzonello, Contracts Manager

FITARA, also known as the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, was enacted by Congress in December 2014 with an aim to reform government’s management and acquisition of IT. Although agencies have made progress over the last 5 years, there remain significant challenges in working toward FITARA compliance.

What does this mean for technology providers? Opportunity!

So, what is FITARA exactly?  FITARA was passed with the goals of improving the acquisition of IT and allowing Congress to track agency progress toward reducing duplication and achieving cost savings. A key component to accomplishing this goal was instilling power into the hands of an agency’s CIO. Another critical provision outlined in FITARA and the MEGABYTE Act included the establishment of a government-wide software purchasing program. This program allows the government to act as if they are buying software (and related hardware and services) as one entity, allowing agencies to address many of their issues, such as outdated legacy systems and the duplication of software licenses.

While the FITARA Scorecard, which grades each agency’s progress in achieving FITARA goals, includes many subcategories (Agency CIO Authority Enhancements, Transparency and Risk Management, Portfolio Review, Data Center Optimization Initiative, Software Licensing, Modernizing Government Technology, Cyber), all categories are aimed at achieving one common goal: IT Modernization. What’s the reasoning behind that?

As stated in the June 26th Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Government Operations, it was estimated that the federal government will spend nearly $92 billion on technology in 2019, with an overwhelming large percentage of those federal IT dollars being used to maintain legacy systems. This results in a staggering amount of money that is going to sustain outdated technology!

To further support FITARA’s goals, the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) was passed to establish working capital funds for use in transitioning away from legacy systems. As part of the MGT, the Technology Modernization Fund allows agencies to borrow money to retire and replace legacy systems. With the enactment of the MGT, it’s clear that strategic management and modernization are a real impetus driving FITARA.

There is a dire need to catch up with the newest technology, with an emphasis in cloud and cyber. However, the effort to modernize does not come without inventorying the current technology that the government already owns. Portfolio review with an emphasis on application rationalization activities, including retiring and replacing legacy systems, is critical to FITARA compliance success.

GSA’s role in FITARA is to implement strategy for the government to capitalize on the modernization of technology by giving the government freedom to (1) purchase solutions that address government needs, particularly in the areas of cloud and cyber and to (2) act as one single enterprise experiencing cost savings commensurate with the large volume of technology that the government as a whole will procure.

Cybersecurity has long been a major concern across government.  Agency systems continue to be breached due to outdated infrastructure and software. FITARA is forcing all federal agencies to make improvements in their cybersecurity postures by assigning a “Cyber” grade to its annual scorecard.  GAO continues to identify shortcomings with the government’s approach to cybersecurity. With GAO’s most recent recommendations, improving implementation of government-wide cybersecurity initiatives, addressing weaknesses in federal information security programs and enhancing federal response to cyber incidents are critical for agencies to improve their FITARA Cyber grade.

Cloud adoption is another critical element of FITARA. Several agencies have already made great progress in moving data from agency-owned data centers to cloud-based environments which has significantly improved their FITARA scores in the area of Data Center Optimization. According to the April 2019 GAO Report entitled “Effective Practices Have Improved Agencies’ FITARA Implementation,” NASA is in the process of closing its data centers and transitioning to a cloud-based environment with a commercial cloud-based model that hosts all its data in one location. Agencies, such as GSA, are also focused on optimized cloud computing environments and shared services – a trend that we will likely see taking hold throughout the government.

FITARA is continuing to turn up the heat on government agencies and there is some talk of the potential for Congress to attach dollars as penalties and rewards for FITARA compliance, so agencies are eager to up their grades. GSA has been encouraging IT vendors to partner with them and develop FITARA solutions that will help agencies make the changes. This will not only lead to higher scores – it will result in giant leaps forward on the IT modernization journey.

 

To find out more about how immixGroup can help you create FITARA-compliant offerings, please contact us at gsateam@immixgroup.com.

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Agile Ops as a Path to Modernization

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

The word “agile” is everywhere now, describing everything from cloud technology to team dynamics. Beginning as an innovative method of software development, agile has expanded to describe projects, solutions, teams and workflows.

As government agencies look to update legacy systems, there is an increasing recognition that modernization encompasses not only updates in technology, but also improvements in how projects are developed and delivered. Here are examples of how federal agencies are applying the agile concept and how technology vendors can insert themselves in upcoming opportunities.

In the world of government IT, agile refers to a software development or project management method which aims to be faster, more customer-centric and more responsive to sudden changes than traditional methods. (If you want to further explore the basic premise of “agile,” GSA has published a comprehensive set of FAQs.) What is most noteworthy about the presence of agile development in government IT is that it represents a significant change in mindset. The government is realizing that efficiency, responsiveness and scalability are often the best ways to stay on top of rapid technological changes. Read more of this post

GSA Making Headlines: Why You Need to Pay Attention

Adam Hyman, Director, Government Programs

If you haven’t noticed by now, you may have been too focused on the final season of Game of Thrones. However, it’s definitely time to turn your attention to what’s going on at the General Services Administration (GSA).

Over the course of the last year, GSA has been making headlines across the federal procurement marketspace by reaching agreement with various agencies to pull into the Schedule 70 program (via BPAs), former agency-specific requirements and IDIQs. While some may argue this is simply a grab for additional contract fees, it makes holding a schedule contract a critical prerequisite for even more federal opportunities. Recent and major opportunities have included:

  • 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) BPA, formerly NETCENTS (valued at $5.5B)
  • Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) BPA (valued at $8.2B)
  • Information Technology Supplies and Support Services (ITSSS) BPA (valued at $5B)
  • NOAA Mission Information Technology Services (NMITS) BPA (valued at $2.1B)

Approximately $20 billion in estimated business is expected to funnel through the Schedule 70 program. This doesn’t even include GSA’s plans for a DEOS sister BPA or the Civilian Enterprise Office Solutions (CEOS) BPA! Read more of this post

The CSO: DOD’s New Way to Acquire Commercial Technology

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

As the use of Other Transactional Authority grows across the Department of Defense as a way to cut back on the time and cost of traditional acquisition programs, a new breed of OTA is emerging. The Commercial Solutions Opening, or CSO, has the potential to have significant value to commercial technology vendors and will give government procurement officers more flexibility in making commercial technology awards.

What are CSOs?

CSOs are a type of OTA designation aimed at buying new and innovative commercial technology. Whereas OTAs are designed for researching, developing and prototyping technology projects, CSOs are aimed specifically at commercial technology that already exists, but will be new to the Department.

Initially, the CSO was piloted only to be used by the limited number of buying activities with OTAs already in place, but a memo released last summer expanded their use across the entire DOD.

Read more of this post

GSA MAS Consolidation – Streamlining Government Purchasing

By Adam Hyman, Director, Government Programs

Over the next two years, the General Services Administration plans to consolidate the agency’s 24 Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts into a single schedule. This change offers IT vendors an opportunity to expand their offerings beyond Schedule 70, without maintaining separate contracts — and this is a good thing.

The benefits to both vendors and government are many; eliminating duplication, providing a single set of terms and conditions, reducing “out of scope” issues and enabling greater flexibility for providing a total solution to government customers – to name just a few.

Currently, GSA organizes schedules by specific supply and service types into “categories.” Most of us are familiar with Schedule 70, the Information Technology category. But, in acquiring a total solution, our government customers have sometimes been required to use schedules from other categories to purchase everything they need. Categories that bleed over into IT solutions often include Office Management, Security & Protection, Total Solutions for Law Enforcement and even Facilities & Construction.

In theory, under the new initiative, vendors will only be required to hold one schedule contract and will be able to add any product and services category to that same schedule. If implemented correctly, this will reduce the administrative burden on the contractor, the government customer and GSA.

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Agencies Starting to Embrace New Telecom Contract

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

In August 2017, the GSA awarded the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract to 10 companies that will provide systems integration work to civilian agencies to update telecommunications infrastructures with modernized next generation networks. The EIS contract replaces the current Networx contact, which expires in FY20. While most agencies are ramping up to use EIS and send out solicitations for telecom projects, the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration seem to be ahead of the curve.

Iris Cooper, senior procurement executive at Treasury released a statement at the ACT-IAC Network Modernization Forum on June 19, affirming that the department is looking to move forward with EIS and was expected to release its first task order solicitation in early July. Eric Olson, who replaced Sonny Bhagowalia as the Chief Information Officer at the department, will be overseeing this solicitation. In a departure from standard procedure, the contract will not be managed by a contracting officer. Therefore, having his buy-in, along with the blessing of the prime contractor, will be crucial for getting your solution in the door.

Read more of this post

Security Is the Key to Growing Fed Blockchain Interest

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Blockchain technology is gaining interest from the federal government. This secure, decentralized and interoperable solution can reduce IT security costs – and that checks all the boxes in federal procurement.

Things are moving pretty quickly with federal blockchain adoption, which is significant given how the government can drag its feet on new technologies. Back in July 2017, the GSA held the first U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum to pose uses for the technology from 100 federal managers.

Since then, blockchain requirements have shown up in more solicitations throughout the federal procurement process.

Read more of this post

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