Accelerating FITARA Compliance: Five Steps That Leaders Can Take Today
Implementing change is not always easy, but it is always necessary. Federal agencies have been working to transform how they acquire and manage Federal information technology (IT). The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) in December 2014 has increased visibility into this transformation.
Although FITARA enhances the authority and accountability of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in reviewing and approving major IT investment projects, CIOs continue to look for new ways to implement best practices at their agencies. The Government Accountability Office developed a FITARA Implementation Scorecard to assess agencies’ efforts. It highlights the need for an improved and accelerated approach throughout the Federal Government. To jumpstart FITARA compliance, leaders should focus on five key steps:
1. Divide implementation into manageable tasks and stages: Implementing FITARA takes time. After each self-assessment, update your agency’s FITARA plan with the key goals.
2. Communicate within the agency about upcoming changes and their potential impact: Though much of the burden of FITARA implementation falls on the CIO, program offices still feel the impact. Communicating periodically to raise awareness of the importance of FITARA – and the agency’s current FITARA priorities – programs can better prepare for new policies and practices and understand why they matter.
3. Engage offices within the agency in the process: To take root, FITARA implementation should not be a strictly top-down effort and should not rely solely on formal Governance boards. It requires a change in culture, processes, and practices, and is a collaboration between agency leadership and program offices. Working groups, training, and information sharing opportunities are critical to equip offices to perform their unique role in the process.
4. Avoid “going it alone” by sharing information and learning from others: Agencies have had over two years to develop compliance strategies and procedures since FITARA was enacted, so there are lessons to be learned! Reaching out to other agencies, sharing information, and drawing from a collective body of knowledge helps inform the best strategies, policies, and processes for each agency.
5. Seek feedback early and often: Identifying roadblocks early helps agencies catch mistakes and resolve them before they become larger problems down the road. Implementation may not be seamless. By allowing offices to share early feedback about their obstacles and challenges, agencies allow time for adjustments that can improve and accelerate their FITARA compliance.
As CIOs and their teams engage their stakeholders, they should take advantage of the opportunity to seek new ideas from those involved in the change. This is also a key success factor in IT Workforce Planning, a FITARA focus area. Sometimes these are the breakthrough ideas CIOs need to make progress quickly. Recognizing these ideas and contributions helps create a lasting culture of innovation.
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