Written by Billy Mitchell
As Congress continues to develop the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act’s scorecard, federal officials believe lawmakers will incorporate the Technology Business Management (TBM) framework to paint a better picture of the impact agency IT investments have on mission outcomes to have.
The Office of Administration and Budget is increasingly adding data on the agencies’ use of TBMs to the federal IT dashboard – a private-sector framework that has caught on with federal CIOs as a data-driven tool to more directly represent business (or mission) IT Investment Value. And now that this data is available, there is an “immense” opportunity for Congress to incorporate this data into future FITARA scorecards, said Kevin Walsh, director of IT and cybersecurity for the Government Accountability Office.
“Eventually, maybe not the next scorecard, but at some point I can see TBM being used to refine the existing scorecard measures,” Walsh said Wednesday during an AFFIRM event on the subject.
Adding a measure of TBM to the scorecards would allow Capitol Hill overseers, agency officials, and budgeters at OMB to delve deeper into the conversation about the effectiveness of IT spending – things like “How much agencies spend on managed services … [and] What they spend on maintenance and support, ”he said.
“There are a lot of really nice things you can do when that data is available,” said Walsh.
For the CIO of the General Services Administration, David Shive, this makes perfect sense. There is a natural parallel between TBM and the FITARA scorecard – now 10 iterations – as it has become more of a full digital hygiene audit for agencies, he said.
“The intersection is actually very blunt and very obvious when you lift the lid and look for both of them under the covers,” Shive said on a board with Walsh. “It’s about more transparency, be it about how an IT shop fulfills the business task of the agency it serves, or about cost transparency, in which you assess the value of IT investments in relation to the business value derived from these investments . “
In a much less elaborate way, the scorecards are also tools for illuminating an agency’s IT function in ways that Congress believes will affect the bottom line.
“It’s about increasing visibility so that senior decision makers can make better decisions,” Shive said of both TBM and the scorecards.
Shive has been investing in TBM and data-driven decision making since “really before FITARA was a thing,” he said. He even helped create a federal playbook to help agencies roll out TBM. For that reason, and given the similarities between the two, it’s no surprise that GSA is one of the top performers on biannual scorecards year after year.
“We were able to prove over a longer period of time that we operate good IT on behalf of GSA’s companies,” he said. “And we are deeply proud of that.”
Additionally, this data-driven nature of TBM is leading to happier and happier employees as it shows the direct impact their work has on GSA’s mission, Shive said.
“The data shows that people who can draw a straight line between their hard work, even if that work is swapping tapes in a data center or … if they can draw a straight line between their work and the organization’s mission,” that they work in … that they become happier and happier in their work, that they become more and more competent in their work, ”he said.
As a result, the GSA’s IT team is consistently ranked the best company in the federal government, according to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Shive said.