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FCW : October 2014
October 2014 FCW.COM 29 Exactly. We’re not the first agency to get into data, but the neat way the Commerce Department is approach- ing the CDO position is that it’s an office that reports directly to the deputy secretary and is collaborative with the Office of the Chief Informa- tion Officer. In most federal agencies, with the exception of the Federal Reserve, most CDOs report to the OCIO. The way we’re positioning this role as being external to the world empha- sizes how important we see data. What are some of the biggest chal- lenges you see at the department? One of the biggest challenges in any organization is working with all of the different missions each bureau has. The learning curve isn’t steeper, it’s wider. I’m learning that if I learn one bureau, I still have to learn the others. It’s a challenge that is over- come with time. The other thing that becomes a bit of a challenge is because the bureaus have historically operated in silos, you don’t have a whole lot of mis- sion space that creates opportuni- ties to collaborate. It’s not a negative though; they are accomplishing their missions. But we have a directive from the secretary saying there needs to be collaboration. And for that we are using the internal Commerce Depart- ment CIO Council to tackle that par- ticular challenge. CIOs often talk about how difficult it is to change the culture of govern- ment. Is that also the case at the Commerce Department? The federal government, in my expe- rience working at three different and very large agencies, works exactly as the founding fathers designed it — for evolutionary change. We live in a world where change is typically revolutionary. Here in the govern- ment, when it comes to changing the culture, historically it can be done, but it is evolutionary. Operating in a real-time world [and looking] at what social media and the Internet have done, people around the globe have information instan- taneously. The challenge becomes: How do you help the culture of the department and the employees at Commerce move from a risk-averse culture to a risk-aware culture? This isn’t anyone doing anything incorrect, it’s the way the culture has been brought up. Now technology is changing things so rapidly that we can’t operate the same way we’ve operated in the past, and we have to recognize that. How has your previous experience prepared you for your current role? Here’s the simple truth: I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 40 years. I’ve also had an awful lot of success. I can’t promise I won’t make mistakes at Commerce, but the chance that I’ll make the same mistake twice is pretty slim. Working in the government gives you a whole set of tools that you can apply to address challenges and problems you face in any role. From my perspective, whatever we come up against — myself along with the other 47,000 people at the Depart- ment of Commerce (that’s a lot of brainpower and talent) — I have every confidence we can get the job done. ■ DRAGUTINCVIJANOVIC Working in the government gives you a whole set of tools that you can apply to address challenges and problems you face in any role.
September 30, 2014
November and December 2014