Congressional scorecard finds federal agencies improving on IT

A new congressional scorecard released this week found that federal agencies are gradually improving in their use of information technology.

The House Oversight and Government Reform committee unveiled its biannual Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard on Tuesday, finding that 11 agencies had improved their scores on IT since May.

Thirteen departments’ scores remained the same, while no agencies saw their scores decrease since the last scorecard earlier this year May — which lawmakers said is a first.

While lawmakers touted the results during a hearing on Wednesday, they remained critical of agencies that did not have a direct reporting line for IT issues within their department.

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Agencies that did not have their chief information officers report directly to their agency head were docked an entire letter grade on the scorecard.

“This is best practice in the private sector, in accordance with FITARA, and the subject of an executive order from the President. There is simply no excuse for any agency to have any other reporting structure in place,” said Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdPelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state MORE (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee's subcommittee on IT.

Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyTo combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks Democratic lawmakers support Bustos after DCCC resignations Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-Ill.) and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (D-Va.), the ranking members of the subcommittee, also generally praised the results at the hearing, while noting that agencies still have plenty of progress to make to keep data secure.

“Recent data breaches potentially allowed access to millions of customers’ information, including 500 million guest records hacked via the Starwood Hotels reservation database, as announced by Marriott International last week,” Kelly said. “These cyberattacks highlight the need to strengthen information security in both the government and private sectors.”

Carol Harris, the director of information technology management issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said in her written testimony for Wednesday’s hearing that past failed attempts to address IT within the federal government often struggled over “a lack of disciplined and effective management, such as project planning, requirements definition, and program oversight and governance.”

“In many instances, agencies had not consistently applied best practices that are critical to successfully acquiring IT,” she said.

Harris also said in her testimony that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other federal agencies had implemented about 59 percent of GAO’s 1,242 recommendations on IT made by GAO.

“Overall, federal agencies would be better positioned to realize billions in cost savings and additional management improvements if they address these recommendations,” Harris’s written testimony states.