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FCW : October 2014
Commentary | ALAN P. BALUTIS The recent resignations of U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and CIO Steven VanRoekel have sparked some interesting discus- sions about their respective roles and responsibilities. Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, noted the widespread turnover across government, writing: “The exit lane in the federal CIO parking lot has a severe backup.” Nextgov has asked, “Is the CTO role still relevant?” For- mer Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson opined that he wasn’t sure we needed the CTO role any- more: “I think what we really need to do is hire better CIOs.” Former Department of Homeland Security executive Keith Trippie has already forsaken the present to ponder what the CIO will look like in 2020. In a comment piece for Fed- eral News Radio, he said he believes the role will evolve into the chief strategy officer. Trippie said the CSTO (which uses the “ST” for strategy to distin- guish it from chief security officers) could join the CIO, the CTO, the chief information security officer, the chief privacy officer, the chief data officer, the chief analytics offi- cer and others “to help the govern- ment transform into a customer-cen- tric, business-focused entity.” But I, for one, would be much more comfortable scrapping the Clinger-Cohen Act paradigm of 1996 if we had ever actually tried or achieved what Rep. William Clinger (R-Pa.), Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine) and others set out to accomplish. I went back to the legislative requirements for the CIO position outlined in Section 512 (a) of the Information Technology Manage- ment Reform Act of 1996 (ITMRA), which established the position of CIO by amending Section 33506 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. I reread the accompanying report language (to avoid admoni- tion from Paul Brubaker) and dug out a yellowed copy of the excellent IAC/CIO Task Force report pub- lished in 1996 under the leadership of Renny DiPentima, former presi- dent of SRA International. And I even unearthed one of the first reports issued by the new fed- eral CIO Council titled “What Makes a Good CIO,” written by a long- forgotten Commerce Department career executive. So let’s dispel some misconcep- tions that seem to exist today: • The CIO was never seen as a retitled “designated senior official for information resources manage- ment” who would focus on serv- ers, firewalls, data centers and the department secretary’s BlackBerry. • Instead, the CIO was seen as a full partner with the CEO, the chief financial officer and business unit executives in driving business trans- formation, with IT as a key enabler. • Critical success factors for the CIO include having the right rela- tionships, identifying and capitaliz- ing on core competencies, and deliv- ering the appropriate technology to support business transformation. • Therefore, CIOs must be key members of the senior manage- ment team who influence agencies’ strategic plans, re-engineer business processes, develop the acquisi- tion strategies and the contracting vehicles necessary to build the tech- nology infrastructure, develop an IT architecture, perform investment analyses and budgeting for all IT investments, and conduct detailed reviews of all major projects. • The CIO should oversee business transformation, security, privacy, data and so on. In contrast, the 1990 CFO Act is widely regarded as having brought real benefits to the federal execu- tive branch. Its main authors — Sens. William Roth (R-Del.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio) — guided and oversaw its implementation. Sadly, neither Clinger nor Cohen was able to do the same for ITMRA. But the legal framework remains, and it is as relevant now as it was almost 20 years ago. ■ It’s too soon to abandon CIOs We should let CIOs perform as the Clinger-Cohen Act intended before reinventing the role yet again The resignations of Todd Park and Steven VanRoekel have sparked some interesting discussions about their roles. ALAN P. BALUTIS is senior director and distinguished fellow at Cisco Systems. 14 October 2014 FCW.COM
September 30, 2014
November and December 2014