FITARA’s Role in IT Management

This blog post is an excerpt from our recent report with Cherwell, Taming FITARA With IT Asset Management. To download the full report, head here.

Federal agencies face unique challenges in managing increasingly complex IT environments. Demands for productivity, efficiency and service delivery are driving the digitization of government. At the same time, agencies operate under regulatory oversight, tight budgets, lengthy budget processes and demands for public transparency.

All of this produces a low appetite for risk and puts a premium on efficiency. FITARA aims to reduce risk and improve efficiency through a standardized management structure and accountability.

The goal of FITARA is to reduce waste and duplication through centralized governance for IT management and to enable Congress to monitor agencies’ progress. It establishes a CIO for each agency who will report directly to the head of the agency and be responsible for IT acquisitions. CIOs will work together to promote collaboration between and among agencies to reduce duplication and to leverage the government’s buying power. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will establish metrics for cost avoidance and performance, and CIOs will report regularly to the OMB on progress. To enable these reforms, collaboration among agencies and the use of private-sector best practices for IT management are encouraged.

To get that understanding, FITARA requires each agency to conduct a review of its IT portfolio.

Agency enterprises tend to grow ad hoc, and over time it becomes difficult to keep track of resources as new hardware and software are acquired while legacy systems continue to run. Multiple licenses for the same software might be acquired by different organizations throughout the agency, creating waste. Software can be inappropriately shared, putting agencies at risk of violating licensing agreements.

Multiple licenses can result in underuse of software if only a small percentage of the allowed seats under each license is being used. Agencies often have no clear idea of how many seats actually are being used, or used regularly. There might also be competing or overlapping types of software in use within the agency, so that duplication can be hard to spot.

FITARA compliance can help avoid these situations by ensuring that agencies have a clear view of what software is being used. Visibility into the software environment allows CIOs and administrators to ensure that employees have the software they need, and that the agency is not paying for software that is not being used.

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