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Jay Mahanand, Chief Information Officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), discusses how his team was able to achieve an “A” rating on the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act scorecard

USAID is one of two federal agencies with an “A” rating on the latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act – or FITARA – scorecard (the General Services Administration earned an “A plus”).

Chief Information Officer Jay Mahanand credited the agency’s “very technically-qualified” team and support from senior leadership. “You can lay the processes out, but it really takes the effort of the team … to be as consistent as we are,” he said.

According to an agency press release, USAID is the only federal agency to receive four “A” ratings since the [House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations] published the first FITARA scorecard in November of 2015.

They earned a “D” on that scorecard, improved over time, and posted consistently high scores ever since.

Their “A” on FITARA 10.0 required some legwork – even after the scores were first posted. Mahanand noticed a discrepancy that resulted in a “B” this time around. He reviewed every one of the metrics that went into it and contacted the Committee.

“I saw that the cybersecurity score was incorrect,” he said. “We [sic] let them know that we thought the score was incorrect. I think they were also looking at it at the same time.”

With another “A” score in hand, Mahanand said FITARA is effectively driving agencies to do well in areas related to IT modernization and report their progress accurately.

“If you actually look at the first scorecard, when it first came out, I think we had two ‘Ds’ and a ‘C.’ This is when we started working with [the Government Accountability Office] to correct some of the reporting errors that [USAID] had. As soon as we did that, we went from a ‘D’ to an ‘A.’”

USAID’s consistent performance could serve as a forecast for their evolving IT priorities. Mahanand said his team is focused on innovation – not modernization – as the agency refines its wealth of data. He wants to harness that data – uilizing tools like robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) – to make better decisions across the enterprise.

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