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FCW : May 15, 2016
DrillDown That is a key risk in the coming year for CIOs and others involved in trying to realize the intent of FITARA. Estab- lishing and documenting strong gover- nance and decision-making processes and instituting performance transfor- mation initiatives down into the career civil service will be essential for sus- taining the hard work currently being done to improve IT management. 2. Acquisition Acquisition strategy plays an extremely important role in effective IT manage- ment, yet too often it results in a bottle- neck to project execution and deliv- ery. Inefficiencies are compounded in iterative and modular development. FITARA guidance curbs that trend and streamlines agencies’ acquisition strate- gies through two key governmentwide initiatives: category management and strategic sourcing. Both concepts are ultimately designed to reduce wasteful spending and increase the speed and quality of acquisition efforts. But which approach is better? In other words, where should executives focus their time and attention? The answer depends on the specific agency’s overall IT strategy and the fre- quency and breadth of the IT services it acquires. To add to the complexity, category management and strategic sourcing can be used at the same time in a robust acquisition strategy. Understanding that all agencies stand to enhance the efficiency of IT acqui- sitions, how do agencies determine the appropriate level of changes to their strategies? How can they engage with those governmentwide initiatives but still collect enough data to make informed decisions? 3. Comprehensive budgeting and planning The budgeting process is considered a request to Congress and the president to move forward with and fund proposed strategies to meet agency missions and priorities. FITARA guidance requires 32 May 15, 2016 FCW.COM Transparency and visibility are essential when it comes to achieving the efficiencies envisioned under FITARA. that the same diligence applied to bud- get formulation be applied to IT bud- get planning, execution and reporting of actual activity. That type of informa- tion is not only beneficial in managing IT execution but must also be reported to OMB and beyond. Transparency and visibility are essential when it comes to achieving the efficiencies envisioned under FITA- RA. But what is the cost to the agency? And how should the level of access to IT budgeting data be tempered during execution? Those three key areas serve as a good base in moving toward FITARA compliance, but they are certainly not the only considerations. As agen- cies move up the FITARA maturity ladder, additional IT requirements — governance, acquisition, budgeting, organization and workforce — must be integrated into agencies’ FITARA structures and processes. When agen- cies reach those levels, the questions become more focused: • What systems will be used to pro- vide biannual reports to OMB on the status of implementation plans? How can agencies integrate component- or bureau-level data into those systems if they are not already doing so? • How has the agency addressed the need for IT resources (government and contractor) in its strategic work- force plan? Are CIOs able to hire the more-generalist IT employees they will need to serve as liaisons to the agency’s other management areas? Do they have the data analytics capacity to under- stand exactly what they need in their workforce in six months, 12 months or 24 months? • Do formal governance boards with agencywide representation exist, and do they effectively drive agency deci- sion-making and development of IT strategic plans? • Has the agency determined measur- able improvements to iterative and modular development practices? Are acquisition and finance teams integrat- ed into those practices? • Do agencies have sufficient oversight and control over the acquisition strat- egy to ensure that efficient sourcing processes are followed? There are no simple answers to these questions and the many others not list- ed here that the federal government is grappling with as it navigates the FITA- RA implementation waters. And there is no standard way to approach answering them across the government. Each agency will need to develop a customized strategy that incorpo- rates analysis capabilities for IT costs and spending, sustainable governance and reporting structures, collaboration techniques, budget planning and data analytics, and many other capabilities. If they do it right, agencies will enjoy a more successful FITARA implemen- tation — one that is stable, responsive and resilient through the upcoming transition to a new administration. n George DelPrete is a principal and IT service line leader in Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector. 0515fcw_030-032.indd 32 4/15/16 12:43 PM
April 30, 2016
May 30, 2016