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National Science Foundation, Agriculture Release CIO-Boosting FITARA Plans

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New plans required by agencies under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act are starting to trickle out ahead of an end-of-the-year deadline.

The National Science Foundation and Agriculture Department have both published FITARA implementation plans recently detailing new responsibilities their chief information officers will undertake.

FITARA, legislation enacted last year to provide greater oversight and transparency in the government’s $86 billion IT spending, mandated that agencies publicly post their implementation plans by Dec. 31.

NSF and Agriculture, despite receiving a “D” grade by Congress in a scorecard released earlier this month, are the first two agencies to make their plans public. The Office of Management and Budget is still reviewing the remaining agencies’ plans.

The plans themselves are detailed and specific.

USDA’s implementation plan delineates the authorities its CIO will have and also devises a process for the CIO to delegate certain authorities, which makes sense in a large agency with 80,000 employees and 29 bureaus across the country.  

Also of note, the plan outlines how other agencies officials’ roles, including the chief financial officer, chief acquisition officer and chief human capital officer among others will change to better manage various aspects of IT within the agency.

USDA’s plan also promises much more insight into total IT spending down to the level of individual projects. The agency will require agencies “to develop life cycle cost for each investment within the USDA IT portfolio,” including system and nonsystem costs relating to equipment, software, personnel, support services and supplies.

Both plans call for CIOs to be more involved in program management. NSF’s plan, for example, mandates the CIO be included “in the internal planning processes for how the agency uses IT resources to achieve its objectives.”

At NSF, the CIO is to be involved “with planning for IT resources at all points in their life cycle, including operations and disposition or migration,” the plan states.

Much of NSF’s new policies went into effect in late September, according to the document. Since then, NSF’s updated acquisition plan has required the CIO to approve IT acquisitions.

(Image via /Shutterstock.com)

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