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FCW : September 15, 2015
Need to know Do agen- cy lead- ers need to know more about the inner workings of IT to do their jobs effectively and safeguard national secrets? For many experts, the answer is yes. Tech is now “part of the fabric of everybody’s lives,” said Montana Williams, senior manager of ISACA’s Cyber- security Practices. When the recent Office of Personnel Management breaches triggered a national debate about cybersecurity, National Review’s Jim Geraghty lashed out at Katherine Archuleta, the OPM director who resigned in the wake 18 September 15, 2015 FCW.COM “I think CIOs need to be a lot more tech savvy than they are,” he said. Because large organizations are bogged down in compliance-based tasks, thinking about how technology can drive the future of agencies is frequently farmed out to the growing ranks of chief data officers, chief technology officers, chief innovation officers or even expert cadres such as GSA’s 18F (an organiza- tion Hashmi helped establish) or the U.S Digital Service. “My view is [that] the CIO should be doing all of that strategic thinking,” Hashmi said. “The reason these new roles emerge is not having the right top leadership.” Although CIO shops need to run net- works, manage security and do other essential tasks, CIOs should find trusted partners among the senior staff to man- age those tasks so that they can spend 80 percent of their time focusing on the larger strategic innovation challenges and educating senior mission staff on what IT can do, he said. A CIO candidate who has years of experience running help desks, maintain- ing networks or managing security might not be “adding differentiated capability to the organization,” Hashmi added. He also emphasized the need to hire CIOs who know how to make the user experience a top priority. In the public and private sectors, “large organizations that run on legacy systems are UX-chal- lenged,” he said. In the private sector, “if your app is not easy to use, consum- ers will not use your service.... It’s very simple.” More and more people are using technology to connect with govern- ment, which means the government is in the midst of transitioning to an envi- ronment in which data and technology don’t just support services, they are the services. If those new services are going to be developed and launched success- fully, CIO shops need leaders for whom the user experience is a core capability, Hashmi said. Still room to get your hands dirty As chief innovation officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Dan Doney is part of the growing ranks of C-level technology advisers who work along- side CIOs at agencies. When it comes to evaluating opportunities, Doney said, hands-on experience is a big plus, par- ticularly with cloud-based technology. “If you are a senior IT manager in the government and you have not actually used the cloud for yourself — you’ve not released an application into the cloud, you’ve not done development in the cloud — you’re doing yourself a great disservice,” Doney said at a recent event in Washington. “You need to experience it yourself so you have a gut sense of what cloud is capable of doing for you. Unfortunately, many of our senior lead- ers have not had that kind of experience, and it’s impacting their confidence.” Ultimately, a CIO must wear many hats. Brubaker likened the role to the classic Renaissance person with a range of interests, talents and skills. And it’s becoming more and more obvious that the ability to keep systems running is just the beginning. n Agency heads: It takes more tech than you think BY ZACH NOBLE 0915fcw_016-025.indd 18 8/24/15 4:26 PM
August 30, 2015
September 30, 2015