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software (and related hardware and services) as one entity, allowing agencies to address many of their issues, such as outdated legacy systems and the duplication of software licenses.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 This results in a staggering amount of money that is going to sustain outdated technology!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

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

Big Data and artificial intelligence are top of mind at NASA this summer. The agency has always collected, sorted, and stored a massive amount of data and made that data available to the public. Now, it’s looking to leverage big data tools to better understand more of the huge volumes of information it has at its fingertips

The focus is on increasing efficiency wherever possible, and it’s this approach you should keep in mind when you’re talking to NASA this year. Here’s what NASA is going to be working on, so make sure you’re tailoring your message appropriately:

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What to watch now that we have a federal budget

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Last Friday, as the rain pounded the Washington, D.C. region, my colleague, Tom O’Keefe, and I huddled in a recording studio to chat with Mark Amtower on federal IT trends for his Amtower Off-Center show.

The 45-minute segment was posted here yesterday. Here are highlights of what we think the IT industry needs to know now that there’s a budget in place for the rest of the year.

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Federal IoT market to reach $3B by FY18

Mark Wisinger

By Kevin Shaker and Mark Wisinger, senior analysts

The internet of things today is what cloud was five to six years ago. A lot of people are interested in it and buying IT solutions that comprise IoT in disparate ways.

This is an exciting time for the IT industry because companies can influence how the market is shaped since it’s still so new. IoT is not a discrete technology but rather a wrapper encompassing many different technologies, and these solutions are ramping up in a big way through the growing amount of sensors and data.

The big picture projection is that $6 trillion will be spent on devices and IoT software across all industries in the next five years, according to Business Insider’s Business Intelligence research. We predict the federal IoT addressable market will hit $3 billion in FY18, up from $2.5 billion spent in FY16.

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4 ways to show NASA some love

Tom O'Keefenasa_021417By Tom O’Keefe, consultant

The next few years could be interesting for NASA, especially if the Trump administration tries to take aim at its climate observation work. But that won’t necessarily stop the space agency from continuing to innovate, embrace new technologies and continue its move toward the cloud.

In fact, while there have been recent challenges within the agency, particularly concerning cybersecurity, expect NASA to continue its role as a standard-bearer for new technologies within the federal government.

So what does that mean for IT vendors? Well to understand how to appeal to NASA, it’s important to focus on how to better enable its science and engineering mission. Here are some areas to focus on:

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3 Ways Industry Can Help Government Cloud Adoption

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

If you attended our recent Cloud Briefing & GCloud Briefing 41216-3overnment Panel, you likely heard a recurring message from the federal leaders who spoke: They need help from industry.

Moving to the cloud has been a bigger challenge than expected as summed up by Office of the DOD CIO cloud lead Robert Vietmeyer, who spoke on our government panel: “This stuff is hard. Leadership is bought into your marketing pitch,” he told attendees, largely representing cloud providers. “We all want better, faster, cheaper. We just found it’s more difficult to get from where we are today to where we all want to be.”

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ACES in the Hole: NASA’s Troubled Infrastructure Contract

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

A recent NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report has criticized the agency’s handling of its major end-user computing services contract, the Agency Consolidated End-User Services (ACES) effort. The ACES contract is one of several efforts meant to consolidate NASA’s IT acquisitions, collectively known as NASA’s IT Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P). The OIG report has found that NASA lacked the institutional controls necessary to manage an enterprise IT initiative and calls in to question many of the other I3P contracts as well.

Two main reasons why NASA’s programs have been troubled include:

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