Will FITARA allow CIO’s to use their powers for good?

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9-24 powers
In my opinion, there still needs to be a bit more in FITARA to prohibit agencies from interpreting it as a license to maintain their current operations, which has been problematic to begin with.

FITARA has been considered by many to be the most sweeping IT reform legislation in over 20 years. Now it’s finally the law of the land, at minimum for the next few years until its authorization comes up for renewal.

The reduction of waste and duplication in government IT spending and generation of better performance outcomes are two significant objectives of FITARA and will finally allow an agency CIO (excluding the military departments) to have a significant role in information technology (IT) decisions, including annual and multi-year budgeting, planning, programming, execution, reporting, management, governance, and oversight functions.

FITARA requires Office of Management and Budget (OMB) CIOs to (1) approve their agency’s IT budget requests, (2) certify that IT investments adequately implement incremental development, and (3) ensure that all requested IT positions meet ongoing requirements. In addition, it requires OMB to make changes in its reporting requirements with an emphasis on net program performance and benefits. It forces the General Services administration (GSA) to develop a strategic sourcing initiative “to enhance government-wide acquisition, shared use, and dissemination of software, as well as compliance with end user license agreements.” It also requires the GSA to allow the purchase of a license agreement that is available for use by all executive agencies as one user.

Agencies will have the option to create their own criteria for which dollar-size projects must be signed by the CIO and which can be signed by a designated person and for the frequency, depth and scope of IT portfolio evaluation.

The expectation is that the agencies will do the right thing, but history has shown us that there are very few guarantees; some agencies will ignore the legislation and take on that risk especially if there are no penalties for doing so, and some will do the minimum required (as often has been the case) with the IT Dashboard to be compliant.

Here’s hoping that many will take the opportunity to make material progress. What do you think?