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FCW : November and December 2016
USDA: A powerhouse in shared services? end users with hardware and software. The Enterprise Data Center and Host- ing Shared Services program is tasked with making NITC’s platform-as -a -ser- vice available to outside customers. Besides the department’s plans to acquire analytics software for its drone technology implementation, it will also use that software in the build-out of loan processing systems. The Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development will all need tools for analyzing customer feedback and loan applications. And with those big-data applica- tions and platform provisioning needs, security cannot be overlooked. USDA’s Security Operations Center will spend some $10 million to modernize its Security Sensor Array, continuing the evolution of a cybersecurity threat dashboard in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. Room for improvement, FITARA-wise Although it’s true that application devel- opment, integration and big-data tech- nologies are driving USDA’s IT procure- ment for fiscal 2017 programs — and that the department is expanding its NFC and NITC customer bases — USDA still has some work to do in managing the infrastructure. In May’s scorecard on Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act compliance, USDA received a failing grade in IT portfolio review savings and a D in data center consolidation, which dragged the agency’s overall FITARA grade down to a C. That’s not bad among all agencies, but it’s not good enough if USDA really wants to pursue its goals of offering ser- vices across agencies. In response, IT leaders are trying to identify enterprise- wide solutions to cut down on the use of isolated systems wherever possible. If USDA is indeed angling for more prestige among fellow agencies by being able to offer platforms and solutions across the federal government, that’s just work that has to be done. But combined with its increased spending on IT, those efforts might make USDA an agency to watch. n Kevin Shaker is an analyst on the Market Intelligence team at immix- Group, an Arrow company that helps technology companies do business with the government. He can be reached at email@example.com. November/December 2016 FCW.COM 31 1216fcw_030-031.indd 31 11/7/16 11:09 AM
January and February 2017