New Agency Scorecards Show Mixed Progress on IT Modernization
Last week, the latest iteration of the biannual scorecard jointly developed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was released.
The scorecards were first released in 2015 and were introduced under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) in 2014. Each scorecard ranks agencies’ efforts to implement FITARA – legislation aimed at modernizing the federal government’s acquisition and application of technology.
In this, the fourth version of the scorecard, four agencies saw improved grades, fifteen agencies’ grades remained the same, and five agencies’ grades declined, with the most dramatic downgrade being the Department of Defense’s (DOD) drop from a ‘D’ in the previous scorecard to an ‘F+’ in the latest version, earning DOD the distinction of the lowest grade in the report. Members pointed to DOD’s decision to reclassify $15 billion of IT investments as national security investments, thus removing requirements that they be tracked under FITARA’s IT dashboard and reducing transparency.
DOD’s decision drew fire from both sides of the aisle. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said in a statement that DOD’s actions could negatively impact requests for increased IT funding, stating “We’re being asked to fund DOD more. Take the message back to them that unless they get their heart right on this, there will not be support for increasing that budget.” Similarly, Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly said, “We are disappointed with DOD’s performance and all of us agree, the burden on them is greater. They have the biggest budget of anyone, and it’s about to get bigger. It’s incumbent on DOD get right with the law, and we’re going to help them along on a bipartisan basis.”
On the other end of the grading spectrum was USAID, which, despite receiving ‘D+’ marks in the first three scorecards, was upgraded to an ‘A+’ (the first-ever ‘A’ on a FITARA scorecard) on the strength of its improvements in the “IT Dashboard” and “CIO Authority” categories.
Included in the scorecard were ratings for how agencies are managing software licenses. As Federal News Radio points out, during passage of the Making Electronic Government Accountable by Yielding Tangible Efficiencies (MEGABYTE) Act in 2016, “lawmakers estimated agencies could save as much as $4 billion a year if they did a better job of managing and consolidating their software licenses.”
This is particularly notable, because implementation of the MEGABYTE Act’s requirements will be included as a metric in the next FITARA scorecard. And despite some good progress indicated during the hearing, “if the committee included progress in implementing the MEGABYTE Act in this grading period, 21 agencies would have received F’s overall, as opposed to just one, the Defense Department.”
A full table of the scorecard’s rankings is included below:
Posted in From the Hill