FITARA 17: Education’s ‘A’ Grade reveals its true meaning

January 30, 2024
1 min read

The Education Department was one of three agencies to receive an “A” grade under the 16th iteration of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard. Luis Lopez, the Education Department’s chief information officer, said the underlying tenets of FITARA is helping the agency better manage and modernize its IT systems. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the co-author of FITARA, will release the 17th iteration of the scorecard on Thursday. The CIOs at the Office of Personnel Management, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Government Accountability Office are expected to join the roundtable discussion.

Lopez set up a customer advisory council last summer to get more out of FITARA than just the letter grade. Lopez said he uses the council to help explain to non-IT executives why the 2014 law matters to them and it’s more than just a technology priority. The customer advisory council also helps Education with the IT governance process.

Education is one of a few Cabinet agencies to have fully transitioned to EIS from the Networx contract. While Education may not have consolidated the tools, it did bring them under a better management approach because of FITARA and through the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. Education is providing employees an alternative to a desk phone or even a mobile phone, called a “soft phone,” which lets users have a dedicated phone number through their laptop. Lopez estimated that Education will save $36 million to $40 million by transitioning to and taking advantage of the modern technologies under EIS. Lopez said the website consolidation contract is another example of how FITARA has helped drive modernization.

He said Education will complete phase 2 of the website modernization by June and all four phases by 2025. Another major priority in 2024 is to finalize the award for its hosting environment. Education’s move to a zero trust architecture also is a big focus this year. He said Education received Technology Modernization Fund dollars to implement secure access service edge (SASE) technology, or at least the very first big phase of it, which is always-on encrypted connection. Lopez said the overall experience in the zero trust architecture is a big one that they’re looking to complete.

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