Over the last several years, the role of the federal CIO has evolved. They have seen significant gains in their oversight and operational influence in IT delivery for mission support, with a set of expanded tools and authorities that have brought exciting new opportunities.
The key authorities that broaden the CIO’s influence are:
- The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) (2015), which gives CIOs authority to lead agency IT investment decision making.
- The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act (2017), which encourages CIOs to establish IT working capital funds to drive savings from operational efficiency and new IT investments. A government-wide fund may be used as an IT investment loan.
Augmenting those programs, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s FY 2019 budget guidance introduces IT financial management cost analytics and capital planning using the Technology Business Management (TBM) framework. That calls for CIOs working with their Chief Financial Officer offices to take deep dives into IT labor and service offering cost allocations.
Congress and recent presidential administrations have done their part; taken together, IT financial management cost analysis, FITARA and the MGT Act provide federal CIOs with a greater breadth of authority and accountability than they have ever had.
Now it is up to federal CIOs to apply the authorities. How they undertake every stage of program, product and business lifecycle will determine whether modernization and digital transformation initiatives succeed or fail.
So where should CIOs begin? Below is a short list of recommendations to assist federal CIOs in aligning their program management efforts to improve decision-making and maximize results.
- Utilize thorough IT cost analysis: IT cost analysis and allocation are keys to knowing where agencies are spending federal funds. A program plan for developing, maintaining and reporting on current IT financial management cost is essential, and the FITARA baseline work can be applied to this effort.
- Use teams to enhance analysis: Teaming will bring the collective knowledge base to the understanding of cost allocation decisions. Federal IT operational analysts, contract managers and financial cost analysts will be key players in this work. They will need to take deep dives into contract documents, financial data and organizational structures to understand how and where the allocation of IT costs reside across the operations, programs and agency.
- Tap data for decision-making insights: With the team’s IT cost analysis, agency leaders can use a data-driven approach to help CIOs and IT leaders manage, improve and communicate business value. The MGT Act calls for CIOs to develop strong business cases that will drive alternatives to improve, retire or replace existing information technology systems in CFO Act agencies and enhance cybersecurity. IT analytics will make those business cases stronger and more credible. At times, the data may tell CIOs things they don’t want to know, but it drives better operational planning, procurement strategies and program management.
Fulfilling the mission
The goal of every agency is to carry out its mission effectively. FITARA, the MGT Act and IT cost analysis give CIOs what they need to move their agencies to the cloud and to streamline IT operations with strategic plans based on accurate data. CIOs have the tools to drive strategic opportunities for their agencies. Now is the time for CIOs to demonstrate the value of IT in federal mission delivery. IT modernization and cybersecurity are critically needed at all agencies.
To learn more about how CGI can assist federal agency leaders, visit our Management Consulting pages.