Transparency is key in demonstrating the value of money spent on information technology, according to the Federal Commission on IT Cost, Opportunity, Strategy, and Transparency (IT COST).

In a recent report, the commission evaluated the best practices in Technology Business Management (TBM) and created a list of recommendations to help agency Chief Information Officers (CIO) improve compliance with the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). Chief among these recommendations, which include tips on optimizing IT spending and consolidating data centers, is the need for CIOs to demonstrate transparency.

The report states that CIOs can showcase their mastery as IT leaders if they are clear about IT cost and performance. The commission said that improved transparency can also optimize business demand and customer satisfaction.

“While not without shortcomings, transparency is a powerful tool for applying the economic forces of supply and demand to IT,” the report says. “It is no longer sufficient to report program and project costs alone; Federal IT leaders and their constituents need better measures for comparing cost to value for all spending, O&M included. And they need them across all departments and agencies.”

The TBM Council, an independent group of business leaders, helped the Commission on IT COST compile the report. In addition to enumerating the benefits of transparency, the Council also recommended the TBM taxonomy and model, which would help IT leaders report figures based on a shared set of operational and financial metrics.

The TBM taxonomy creates a uniform system of terminology across agencies. The taxonomy filters into a cost model, which allows agencies to see which costs are associated with certain services, business units, and applications. According to the report, the system can help CIOs with FITARA compliance by enabling them to become a transparent agent in deals with third parties, reducing debt by providing a more comprehensive view of total cost of ownership, and negotiating better outsourcing contracts.

“Federal IT leaders face many of the same challenges as their private sector counterparts—heightened expectations to retire or modernize legacy systems, consolidate data centers, eliminate redundant systems, and optimize spending,” the report says. “Attaining these goals will require new IT strategies, processes, systems, roles, and ways of making technology decisions that impact stakeholders well beyond IT. Federal IT leaders will need to understand and be able to communicate exactly where, how, and why IT spending occurs.”




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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.