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software (and related hardware and services) as one entity, allowing agencies to address many of their issues, such as outdated legacy systems and the duplication of software licenses.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 This results in a staggering amount of money that is going to sustain outdated technology!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.

Keep up on government IT trends. Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

Summing Up the Government IT Sales Summit

By Tim Larkins, Director, Market Intelligence

The 2018 immixGroup Government IT Sales Summit has come to an end. Despite an unwelcomed surprise from mother nature, hundreds of suppliers, partners, systems integrators and government employees flocked to the event to attend sessions, share knowledge and network. A diverse array of topics was discussed, and while content varied from room to room, many consistencies were noticeable.

Among them were government agencies’ imperatives for modernization, optimization and meaningful use of data. About half of the agencies are funded with new appropriations in FY19, with the other half on a CR through early December. Of the agencies with new money, most of them are seeing an uptick in their IT budgets – with which they will be purchasing COTS software and hardware to help them meet the aforementioned imperatives.

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How Can Technology Tackle the Lengthy Immigration Process?

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

The United States Digital Service (USDS), founded in 2014 to provide innovative ideas to agencies around IT modernization, is aggressively attempting to streamline the immigration process by implementing electronic forms and doing away with paper-based applications. The goal is to shorten the lengthy process immigrants endure when applying for citizenship and make it less burdensome on government employees as they process immigration and green card applications.

USDS is now working with United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency that handles immigration and naturalization, to reform their application analysis process. The USDS team working on the project is more focused on developing technologies for IT and operations process redesign than pushing immigration policy through Congress. Their goal is to also collaborate with agency higher ups and end users to design and create automated systems that alleviate redundancy.

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Transformation May Be Your Foot in the Door for Federal Sales

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

If you have genuinely transformational technology, public sector IT executives may be willing to listen now more than ever.

In August, public and private sector officials held a series of short discussions on government IT and procurement, emphasizing innovation in everything from protecting critical assets to reforming acquisition methods.

Here are three top takeaways

GSA Schedules

Alan Thomas, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, said plans are being discussed to consolidate schedules for easier acquisition.

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Omnibus signed into law–now what?

Chris Wiedemannfederal budget, fiscal year, procurementBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Despite some last-minute dramatics, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill into law last Friday, fully funding the government for the rest of fiscal year 2018.

Of course, with any bill this size (over 2,200 pages in total), it takes a while to fully digest the implications for our customers and industry.

That said, it’s never too early to pull out some early highlights – to wit:

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Can data be protected through shared services?

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, DOD manager

Any guesses on how much data is generated every year by government and government-related apps? More than 1,000 billion bytes. It’s a staggering number.

Naturally you wonder how is all of that data protected? How do we protect the information that makes our electric grid, air traffic, voting processes and other government-controlled functions keep working safely and reliably?

One obvious answer is to improve the way services are shared between government agencies – and between government and private industry.

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How to capture more IT business from HHS in FY18

Chris Wiedemann

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

I have worked with immixGroup’s suppliers and partners on a wide range of federal agencies and their IT requirements and buying patterns. And one department consistently stands out as the most commonly asked about: Health and Human Services (HHS).

Diving into the numbers makes it clear why. At $13.8 billion, HHS’s top line IT budget is several times bigger than other large non-defense agencies. And although most of that money goes straight out the door in the form of grants to state and local agencies, the remainder still makes HHS the largest non-defense IT agency in government.

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