Watchdog Finds IT Scorecards Effective In Monitoring Federal Modernization Efforts


A new report highlights the benefits FITARA grading has had on modernizing tech within the government, despite recent failing grades. 

The FITARA Scorecard, one of the hallmark features of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, is particularly effective in helping public agencies modernize and improve information technology used in government operations, according to a new report conducted by the Government Accountability Office.

“Biannual scorecards have served as effective oversight tools for monitoring federal agencies’ efforts in implementing statutory requirements and addressing other important IT issues,” the report found. 

The scorecards the GAO focused on were implemented as part of FITARA’s passage and serve as an oversight procedure to help federal agencies track their compliance with new IT regulations. 

Since its adoption, the FITARA scorecard provisions have been extended to encapsulate more IT components than the initial four: incremental development efforts, cost reviews, risk management and data center optimization.

As of 2014, the law was updated to oversee and grade federal agencies’ establishment of cybersecurity tools, software licensing, and funding supply for IT upgrades, along with direct requirement reporting to agency chief information officers.

GAO officials point out that with the increased scope of the FITARA scorecards, grades for eligible government agencies have broadly increased, with 100 percent of agencies receiving a passing grade of “C” or higher as of December 2021. 

“The escalation in grades reflects the notable improvements in components of the scorecards,” the report reads. 

Specific areas that saw marked improvement across government offices were the incremental installment of functional IT services, CIO direct reporting, portfolio management savings, and risk management practices. 

“The biannual scorecards have steadily evolved while serving as effective oversight tools for monitoring agencies’ implementation of FITARA and other IT-related statutory requirements,” the report concludes. “Going forward, it will be important for Congress to continue adapting oversight tools, such as the biannual scorecards, to address changes in the federal landscape and hold agencies accountable for improving IT management.”

The report was issued to the House Oversight Subcommittee that manages scorecard administration. 

Despite the praise given to scorecards by the GAO, multiple agencies reported failing grades specifically regarding the requirement to pivot contracts to support modernized telecommunications. These agencies included the Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the Social Security Administration.