DOD CIO explains FITARA fail

In June, DOD received an F+ for its implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, but the CIO says his department is working to bring up its marks.

Dr. John Zangardi, principal deputy CIO, Department of Defense

Acting DOD CIO Dr. John Zangardi is looking to bring up the Pentagon's flagging FITARA grades.

In June, the Department of Defense ended the school year with an "F+" on the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act's Scorecard 4.0 – a mark the DOD's CIO says the department is taking steps to boost.

Lawmakers chided the DOD for its grade – the lowest of the 24 agencies measured – which dropped from a D+ in December 2016. Representatives decried the "F" scores DOD received in three of the four measured areas: transparency, CIO authority and data center optimization.

"The Committee reduced DOD's grade due to a lack of transparency on IT spending," said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) at a June 13 House Oversight Committee hearing on the results of Scorecard 4.0.

"DoD appears to have reclassified a significant percentage of its IT spending as National Security Systems, which are not covered by FITARA," said Hurd. "This lack of transparency is unacceptable." 

However, acting DOD CIO John Zangardi said on the public affairs program Government Matters on July 2 that the move of $15B in funding to National Security Systems was required under a provision of FITARA.

"So in this particular submission we pulled out all of the National Security Systems funding, that was viewed as a decrease in the funding that we were showing to the [House Oversight Committee], GAO and others," said Zangardi.

He said his office has explained to the committee and GAO that the NSS funding is "for official use only" and should not be publicly disclosed.

"But we want to make sure the transparency is there for the committee and the GAO, so we're working through that and I think we have a level of agreement," he said.

The DOD's process of consolidating data centers also received an F. As FCW has reported, the DOD has been behind on its data center consolidation goals for more than a year -- both in terms of the number of centers closed or consolidated and the savings realized.

Zangardi acknowledged that the projected savings outlined in the department's consolidation plan are $1.8 billion and so far the DOD has realized only $396 million, which led to the failing grade.

He said DOD is well aware of its obligation to warfighters and taxpayers to find savings that can be redirected to buying weapons and equipment.

"I've tasked my staff to look at data center consolidation and we will be pulling together the services to look at a plan…on how we're going to progress," he said. Zangardi said DOD will develop metrics along the lines of the DOD's cyber scorecard in order to track progress.

"It's important to measure because that is a great motivator when you can say you're red, yellow, or green -- it moves people," he said.

Zangardi told FCW in June that DOD was working through the barriers of moving to cloud, modernization challenges and the process of reassigning the workforce in order to consolidate centers.

He said moving military and contractor personnel is fairly easy, but the civilian workforce is more difficult.

"Every civilian has a particular position description so you have to find a way to move them into a different occupation," he said. "It's a doable thing, but repurposing takes a little longer there."

The third area where DOD failed the latest FITARA report card was CIO authority.

"We are governed by the DOD 5000-2 series, which drives acquisitions in about nine-plus months in terms of delivery of capability," he said on Government Matters. "FITARA and OMB are driving us to six-month incremental deliveries."

He said an example of how DOD is working to deliver quicker is the process of reforming the Defense Travel System, which he acknowledged does not have many fans in the department.

Zangardi said officials went through the joint travel regulations and eliminated 240 pages to bring it down to eight pages, which allows the DOD to look at commercial solutions. The Pentagon is currently rolling out a pilot with the goal of replacing DTS with a commercial product later in the year.

"We are looking at ways of delivering capability because that is important, it saves money," he said. "But it also gives the sailor, soldier, airman and marine a better experience."