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Implementation of IT Reform Law and Related Initiatives Can Help Improve Acquisitions

Information Technology: Implementation of IT Reform Law and Related Initiatives Can Help Improve Acquisitions, GAO-17-494T: Published: Mar 28, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2017. “The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted in December 2014 to improve federal information technology (IT) acquisitions and can help federal agencies reduce duplication and achieve cost savings. Successful implementation of FITARA will require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and federal agencies to take action in a number of areas identified in the law and as previously recommended by GAO.

  • IT workforce planning. GAO identified eight key IT workforce planning practices in November 2016 that are critical to ensuring that agencies have the knowledge and skills to successfully acquire IT, such as analyzing the workforce to identify gaps in competencies and staffing. However, GAO reported that the five selected federal agencies it reviewed had not fully implemented these practices. For example, none of these agencies had fully assessed their competency and staffing needs regularly or established strategies and plans to address gaps in these areas. These weaknesses were due, in part, to agencies lacking comprehensive policies that required these practices. Accordingly, GAO made specific recommendations to the five agencies to address the practices that were not fully implemented. Four agencies agreed and one partially agreed with GAO’s recommendations.
  • IT Dashboard. To facilitate transparency into the government’s acquisition of IT, OMB’s IT Dashboard provides detailed information on major investments at federal agencies, including ratings from Chief Information Officers (CIO) that should reflect the level of risk facing an investment. GAO reported in June 2016 that 13 of the 15 agencies selected for in-depth review had not fully considered risks when rating their investments on the IT Dashboard. In particular, of the 95 investments reviewed, GAO’s assessments of risks matched the CIO ratings 22 times, showed more risk 60 times, and showed less risk 13 times. Several factors contributed to these differences, such as CIO ratings not being updated frequently and using outdated risk data. GAO recommended that agencies improve the quality and frequency of their ratings. Most agencies agreed with GAO’s recommendations...”

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