FITARA Guidelines Garner Little Feedback on GitHub -- So Far

Gil C/Shutterstock.com

Featured eBooks

The Government's Artificial Intelligence Reality
What’s Next for Federal Customer Experience
Cloud Smarter

So far, the buttoned-up federal IT industry appears more willing to share its thoughts on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act the old-fashioned way -- by email.

How does the federal IT community feel about the new government guidelines boosting the budget authority of agency chief information officers? You’ll probably have to look beyond GitHub, at least for now.

The federal government has received praise from transparency advocates for posting proposed regulations for implementing federal IT reform on the open-source collaboration site traditionally used for writing software code.

But so far, the buttoned-up federal IT industry appears more willing to share its thoughts on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act the old-fashioned way -- by email. The guidance has elicited just two comments on GitHub, which claims 9.5 million registered users. (A handful of other comments deal with purely technical issues, such as formatting).

Commenters have until May 30 to chime in on the guidance, but Office of Management and Budget officials said they were hoping to receive “substantive comments” by May 15. 

“Early feedback is critical in ensuring we have time to adequately consider and follow up on the comments we receive,” officials said in the draft guidance notice. OMB isn’t saying how many emailed comments it’s received so far.

The General Services Administration’s 18F innovation hub has made extensive use of GitHub to plot out projects, garnering a feature on FiveThirtyEight about the “government bureaucrats” who are “adopting the tech tools of Silicon Valley.”

The reticence of the GitHub savvy to weigh in on FITARA may have more to do with the message in this particular case than the medium.

An earlier White House-18F proposal to require the use of the HTTPS encryption standard on all public-facing federal websites posted to the site garnered gobs of comments, including from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and even a NASA Web server administrator who asked proponents of the measure to consider the implications of banning the less-secure HTTP standard.

Granted, the comment period on the HTTPS proposal was open much longer -- and most groups waited until closer to the deadline to leave feedback.

Of the two comments on FITARA so far, one noted the proposed guidance doesn’t mention how or whether agency chief information officers should use the concept of enterprise architecture to better manage their IT portfolios. The other comment deals with whether the proposed guidance goes far enough in protecting the independence of agency inspectors general.

Several provisions in the guidance “appear to allow the agency CIO to have direct and significant authority of the IT functions” of an IG, wrote B. Chad Bungard, general counsel for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Of course, if you want to know how people feel about a particular policy, you can always go really low-tech and simply call them up and ask them. Then again, not everyone likes to be quoted, especially when what they say could in any way be construed as the least bit negative.

For what it’s worth, we’re hearing largely positive things about the proposed guidelines.

(Image via Gil C/ Shutterstock.com)