Office of the Chief Information Officer

United States Department of Agriculture

Common Baseline Plan

FITARA guidance sets forth a “Common Baseline” to establish a framework of IT management capabilities and related roles and responsibilities that Agencies (Departments) are expected to implement.

Recognizing that one size does not fit all, the Common Baseline sets a minimum level of standards that provide flexibility for agencies to implement the law in a manner consistent with each Agency’s (Department’s) unique requirements.

In response to the M-15-14 mandate, the USDA developed the United States Department of Agriculture Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act Common Baseline and Implementation Plan, dated November 14, 2015, which reinforces the role and authority of USDA’s CIO in establishing an inclusive, integrated governance process that manages IT as a strategic resource. The USDA Common Baseline establishes a framework for USDA to implement the specific authorities that FITARA gives to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Agency CIOs, and builds upon the responsibilities outlined in the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.

USDA provided a comprehensive plan that ensured integration of the USDA CIO, senior Executive Officers, and staff and agency IT leadership.  USDA’s Common Baseline Implementation Plan communicates how it will improve vertical integration, ensure clear communication, and provide a more detailed explanation of deadlines, actions or processes across the Department.

USDA provides an update to the Common Baseline Implementation Plan using the FITARA Actions and Milestones (Table 2) as part of the Integrated Data Collection submitted quarterly.

The four functional areas of M-15-14 are:

  1. Budget Formulation and Planning
  2. Acquisition and Execution
  3. Organization and Workforce

USDA uses the Information Technology Management Maturity Model ( ) to verify and validate the information provided in Table 2.