The thought of whether FITARA will be effective or not is still to be determined. The FITARA legislation is a great start in that the guidance has been deployed well in comparison to previous legislation. Since the question about whether it will be effective is currently pending, I think the follow up question is “what should CIO’s do first?”
There are a few things that come to mind when it comes to this question that can lead to a more effective integration and compliance to the FITARA legislation.
- First, shift the Agency’s mindset. Agency-level CIOs will need to begin viewing their responsibilities through a broader enterprise-wide lens to help ensure critical investments are not operating in silos.
- Second, develop an overall strategy to guide IT activities and capabilities across the entire Department, using the broadened definition of IT resources as spelled out in FITARA and OMB’s guidance. This strategy will need to outline how the agency will leverage Departmental capabilities across the enterprise, while leaving mission-specific systems in hands of component CIOs. In addition, the strategy will need to address which services can be commoditized across the agency to gain economies of scale, such as cloud and email.
- CIOs need to take a leadership role in the implementation of FITARA and should recognize that the basics of successful management remain the same. No law will supersede the need for strong partnerships. Agency CIOs should to partner with component CIOs, viewing them as trusted advisors and implementation leaders. Likewise, they should view executives in finance, acquisition, human resources, and operations as important stakeholders, customers and partners in implementing IT across the Department.
Thinking back to some of CIO’s I have supported in my career, I remember the many partnerships that were crucial to getting things done. The need for working across silos and developing strong partnerships are embedded in FITARA. The CIOs who develop strong partnerships across their agencies will more adeptly succeed under FITARA and will help support the real spirit of the law – to drive accountability, efficiency, and transparency in federal IT.
I hope this post was helpful. Please stay tuned for more on FITARA and other federal IT governance initiatives in future posts.