The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, was instated in 2014, marking one of the first major overhauls in federal IT in two decades, and giving federal agency CIOs control over their IT investments. In an effort to modernize outdated systems, FITARA requires federal agencies to provide the Office of Management and Budget with inventory of data centers, a strategy to consolidate and optimize their data centers, and quarterly progress reports on the agency’s strategy. This push for IT modernization, combined with independent budget control, opens new opportunities for the VAR community.
Flip Anderson, FITARA Operations Officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), began implementing FITARA in 2015 with limited resources, including a fully volunteer staff. Anderson says that his first steps were to establish roles for his team, document a policy, and then meet with other CIOs to ensure they understood the process and regulations. During implementation, he recommends creating a data log so that staff know exactly what has been done and the next steps coming.
“I went out and met with each of the individual stakeholders in FITARA, I made sure everyone had a common understanding of what was being required,” said Anderson.
Anderson urges VARs to do their research before presenting solutions to a potential customer. FITARA was enacted in response to challenges with federal IT, including duplicate IT spending between agencies, lack of visibility into IT spending, inability to benchmarked IT, and the struggle to understand the cost and performance of IT investments. FITARA helps to solve these issues by requiring transparency for agency IT spending while giving CIOs the power to address challenges and improve the outcomes.
Anderson advises government IT contractors and VARs to “Understand our business. Understand what we are trying to do in IT to support the business.”
Dated technology and basic programs aren’t going to help with FITARA. For VARs to secure an opportunity, they must understand the outcome the agency is trying to achieve and deliver a solution that will make an impact. Anderson explains that solutions focused on HR, recruiting, retention, training, and most importantly, data center consolidation are top of mind for his agency and others as they seek to modernize and increase operational efficiencies.
“Show me the linkage with what you are trying to bring in and what I’m trying to do,” said Anderson.
At Westcon-Comstor’s Federal Forum, Anderson offered more advice to the VAR community on how to work with agencies seeking to meet FITARA compliance. Watch the video.