The FITARA 8.0 scorecard, released in June, has been reverberating throughout the government as agencies identify what they need to improve during the next scorecard period as well as consolidate their success.
During a recent webinar hosted by SolarWinds, Federal Sales Engineer Yuli Mikolenko, looked at what FITARA was intended to do as well as why many agencies struggle with the requirements. FITARA, Mikolenko explained, was enacted in response to specific IT challenges, including cost, performance, and transparency into IT spending. The program’s objectives, which cover everything from cost containment to enabling proactive planning and management of IT programs to cybersecurity (FISMA compliance), set a high bar for the agencies covered under the requirements.
The improvements FITARA calls for requires taking the long view. Duplicate spending within and between agencies is an ongoing issue, and legacy systems are still consuming a large portion of federal operations.
“Agencies have been most successful with modernizing government technology but have been significantly less successful with data center optimization,” Mikolenko said. The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), a specific objective of FITARA, has received a lot of the notoriety surrounding FITARA, with its goal of reducing complexity and cost. While it’s moving forward, there are still more than 12,000 active data centers, according to the Government Accountability Office, and a number of agencies’ closure goals are not on track to meet their target dates. It’s important to note, the number of data centers appeared to have increased over the past several years; in fact, the GAO Expanded its definition of “data center,” leading to a jump in the total count.
While none of the 24 agencies received an overall “F” score, nearly 50 percent simply maintained their previous grades, while five agencies improved and four others dropped. The highest overall scores of “B+” was countered by more than a dozen agencies that earned scores ranging from “C+” to “C-,” and two agencies came out with “D-“ grades; four agencies received two grades each, due to new scoring standards introduced recently.
Mikolenko suggested meeting the requirements of the initiative areas can be supported via an integrated, modular toolset to address multiple management and monitoring tasks. This framework, he explained, “provides common services, such as device discovery, alerting, and reporting, and shares a common data model for monitoring your physical, virtual, and cloud environment in a single unified view.” Such a toolset can greatly reduce the time and resources needed to manage everything from licenses to network assets, and provide immediate feedback when something is out of compliance.
Portfolio management is one such area that can be improved through this kind of management environment, Mikolenko said, explaining the government wants to reduce duplicate investments in IT by consolidating acquisitions and using shared services. He said this applies to network and systems monitoring alongside applications such as email and Office 365® and can help reduce costs and simplifies operations. DCOI objectives, software licensing and patching, and modernization efforts can also be managed through this sort of environment, and cybersecurity can be supported through global asset and access management, along with compliance monitoring.
FITARA’s top-level goals of cost containment and improved, streamlined use of technology are important drivers for CIO decisions at every government agency. The standards are evolving as both technology and the understanding of what’s possible evolve. Agency IT leadership is under the microscope and racing the clock to rethink, replace, and reimagine how IT will look in both the short- and long-term. Better, smarter automation may be the critical factor in those plans.