Draft FITARA policy elicits few comments, but new IT commission to help

J ust as agencies and vendors are telling the Office of Management and Budget what they think about the draft Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) guidance the administration issued in early May, a new public-private organization is offering their help.

The Technology Business Management (TBM) Council launched the Commission on IT Cost Opportunity, Strategy and Transparency (IT COST) May 14, led by public and private sector chief information officers. TBM is a non-profit business entity focused on the development of a definitive framework for running technology organizations like a business.

The commission says it will “define a set of recommendations and best practices for federal departments and agencies to transparently measure and communicate their IT costs so that federal CIOs are better equipped to govern their IT spending and support agency missions with limited resources.”

Pretty big plans for the commission, and they seem to be digging up ideas that have been around for sometime — remember Raines Rules?

Raines Rules was developed by former OMB Director Frank Raines during the Clinton administration. Raines Rules is really just basic IT management that helps ensure agencies are asking the right questions to focus on changing the business model instead of just applying technology.

But as OMB finalizes the FITARA guidance, the council believes it has a real opportunity to bring some commercial best practices into government.

For example, the commission’s first meeting will take place by September and plans to issue a series of recommendations in early 2016.

The commission says it will:

  • Aid in the implementation of FITARA, which gives federal CIOs centralized control over their agency’s spending for commodity IT.
  • Reduce waste and increase efficiency of federal sector IT spend.
  • Empower federal CIOs to demonstrate the cost, quality and value of their IT spend

“We realize that commercial and federal CIOs approach technology cost accounting and management very differently,” said Doug Lane, CEO of Capgemini Government Solutions. “However, there are key private sector learnings that can be applied to the federal space that we believe will have a substantive, lasting impact on the way public sector CIOs manage and communicate the value of their technology investments.”

Lane is one of 12 private sector technology experts on the commission. Others include Sunny Gupta, CEO of Apptio, Ralph Kahn, vice president of federal for Tanium, Rebecca Jacoby CIO of Cisco and George Westerman, a research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Five federal CIOs also are on the commission, including Frank Baitman , CIO of the Department of Health and Human Services; Richard McKinney, the CIO of the Department of Transportation; Sylvia Burns, the CIO of the Department of Interior; Steve Cooper, the CIO of the Department of Commerce; and Joyce Hunter, the acting CIO for the Department of Agriculture.

By the way, OMB hasn’t received a lot of public feedback yet on the FITARA draft guidance. According to the GitHub site, OMB has received only six comments so far, two were technical corrections, and four are more substantive.

One commenter focused on the need to give agency inspector generals more independence and another focused on the lack of any mention of enterprise architecture in the draft policy.

Federal CIO Tony Scott asked for a majority of the initial comments to come in the first two weeks so they could improve the guidance and put it out again for a second round of public comment.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.