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FCW : October 2014
28 October 2014 FCW.COM Steve Cooper said he was so inspired by his interview with Com- merce Secretary Penny Pritzker that he decided to come out of retirement to take on the CIO role at the Com- merce Department. Cooper is stepping into the shoes of CIO Simon Szykman, who announced in February that he would be leaving the department after seven years. Armed with 40 years of federal and private-sector experience, Cooper is tackling the challenge of overseeing IT operations for a department with 12 agency CIOs and more than $1 billion worth of programs listed on the IT Dashboard. Cooper has previously served as CIO at the Federal Aviation Admin- istration and was the first CIO at the Department of Homeland Secu- rity. He also served in President George W. Bush’s administration as special assistant for homeland secu- rity and senior director for infor- mation integration at the White House Office of Homeland Security. Cooper recently sat down with FCW’s Colby Hochmuth to talk about his vision for the Commerce Depart- ment. Below are excerpts from the interview, edited for clarity. You have been in this role for about two months. What have you identi- fied as some of your top priorities so far? Operational excellence — that’s No. 1. The second is joint with the bureau CIO community: to figure out a way for the IT community, headed by myself and the bureau CIOs, to work together to become more effective and more collaborative with IT ser- vice delivery. The third is essentially to move the department, with regard to technology and information, into the 21st century, which does indeed kind of imply that in some parts of the department, we are not in the 21st century. What I have learned in some of the bureaus and certainly at HQ is that we haven’t always been able to replace aging infrastructure and equipment. Any time you have things that are mechanical and electronic, they need maintenance, and when they don’t get maintenance, they break. We are working effectively and collaboratively with our [chief finan- cial officer] and bureau CIOs to iden- tify and make the appropriate invest- ments, beginning with this year. And what about cybersecurity? The first step is to gain situational awareness and think of it as tak- ing inventory of what we have and where we are. We have done that. We’re working with CIOs at the bureaus and the [chief information security officer] community across the department, and we have essen- tially taken inventory and established a risk profile of the cybersecurity posture. Going forward, we now have a mechanism in place, and we will update that risk profile on a monthly basis. I, as the CIO, will report that to the secretary and the executive man- agement team. How involved is Secretary Pritzker in the work you’re doing as CIO? What role does she play? She’s made a huge impact. The rea- son I accepted the position was the result of my interview with the secre- tary. She impressed me so much that I wanted to come back to govern- ment and work with her. Her understanding of the impor- tance of technology and information in all of the bureaus at Commerce is phenomenal. Quite simply, it really differentiates the department and makes it easier for the Department of Commerce to do our job because of the visible and vocal support we get from Secretary Pritzker. She has been a champion for the release of more Commerce data and announced in July 2014 that the department would be hiring a chief data officer. Steve Cooper: Back in the saddle at Commerce FirstPerson After a 40-year career, Steve Cooper came out of retirement to take the CIO reins at the sprawling agency
September 30, 2014
November and December 2014