Can FITARA serve as a framework for continual modernization?

Federal agencies have come a long way since the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform introduced the Federal Information Technology Acquisitio...

Federal agencies have come a long way since the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform introduced the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) nearly ten years ago. Driven by FITARA progress, empowered CIOs and greater cloud awareness prepare agencies to more efficiently serve citizen and inter/intra-agency needs.

But a dynamic technology landscape means agency leaders face an evolving set of challenges when serving the digital citizen. In order to thrive, agencies must continue their modernization journeys. FITARA serves as a guide to help agencies modernize, especially as the FITARA scorecard evolves.

Its framework provides a valuable starting point, while integration platforms ensure legacy and modern technologies work together seamlessly and provide the best digital citizen experience.

Modernizing with FITARA

FITARA sets a framework that recognizes the never-ending advancement of technology, encouraging agencies to adopt a continual growth mindset.

One initial FITARA priority, data center optimization, today requires a different approach to increase agency efficiency. With the help of the FITARA guidelines, agencies greatly reduced the number of data centers in operation. According to the GAO, this effort has resulted in $6.6 billion in savings and avoidances between 2012 and 2021.

However, first cuts included small rooms with servers and closet data centers, with workloads migrated to other existing data centers and not the cloud. Instead, transitioning to the cloud where appropriate will create an even greater overall impact on agency operations. To better reflect this, FITARA scores should measure consolidation and optimization of a hybrid cloud structure rather than data center closures.

The government now has a deeper understanding of cloud computing’s value as it intentionally transitions to environments designed to meet mission needs. As agencies operate in complex ecosystems that combine public cloud, on prem, edge and other environments, tools and solutions that can integrate these varied platforms maximize the impact of their investments and efforts.

Funding has always presented a challenge to modernization, making large-scale projects seem unattainable, even when they promise greater long-term savings. The Technology Modernization Fund has tried to address the funding challenges by providing agencies with the necessary resources to get modernization projects off the ground. While agencies have taken advantage of TMF funds, greater utilization of the funds could further improve scores.

Agencies improve their position to utilize these funds when presenting projects with an interagency benefit that fits into priority categories of citizen service and cybersecurity. Integration tools allow agencies to easily connect agency systems for a scalable program that fits into these funding requirements.

Taking modernization a step further with integration

While cloud adoption increases, some agency systems need to remain in legacy environments. For example, COBOL will remain a part of government technology for the foreseeable future to preserve decades-old records too vital to risk transitioning.

Integration Platform as a Service allows agencies to seamlessly connect these legacy technologies while migrating to the cloud wherever possible. iPaaS delivers a cloud service for application, data, process and service-oriented architecture (SOA) integration that supports cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-on-premises and on-premises-to-on-premises scenarios.

For citizens, this means systems hosted anywhere seamlessly connect, leading to higher citizen engagement and a better overall experience. iPaaS gives IT leaders the power to simplify citizen portals, creating a seamless, integrated experience while saving workforce costs. A low code approach, iPaaS enables integration and application development without manual coding, empowering less technical workers.

As agencies make progress on FITARA goals, iPaaS on the backend amplifies the impact of modernization efforts.

There’s no final IT modernization milestone or end to possibilities of innovation. FITARA will continue to evolve to meet the realities of modern technology, and the new capabilities available to meet citizen needs.

But a connective tissue offered through iPaaS that can connect anyone to anything at any time and an eye on the direction of modernization positions agencies for the future.

Joseph Flynn is principal technologist at Boomi.



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