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FCW : November and December 2015
November/December 2015 FCW.COM 17 The U.S. CIO has made a mantra of ‘land the planes’ and pushed notable improvements in his first nine months. But the to-do list for 2016 is long indeed. BY ADAM MAZMANIAN CAN TONY SCOTT GET IT ALL DONE? When U.S. CIO Tony Scott started making the rounds at Washington-area events in March, about six weeks after his appointment, he projected a calm, unruffled demeanor and showed a knack for staying on message with his metaphors. He told audiences he had come to town from Silicon Valley to “help land the planes.” As an experienced pilot, Scott said he knew that getting into the air was the easy part. And under President Barack Obama, whose administration formally created the U.S. CIO position, there was plenty of air traffic when it came to federal IT. The 25-point IT management reform plan of the first CIO, Vivek Kundra, promised to have agencies moving IT operations to commercial cloud provid- ers, put acquisition of commodity IT on an enterprise- wide basis and monitor risky projects using a data-driven oversight process. Steven VanRoekel, the second U.S. CIO, pushed PortfolioStat and launched the U.S. Digital Service, an effort to embed forward-thinking design, acquisition and usability specialists inside agencies’ IT organizations to transform and modernize how the government imagined IT. Congress had passed the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, and implement- ing the new law was going to be a big job, requiring a technology rethink across all levels of the federal government. Scott — a corporate CIO with experience leading IT organizations at VMware, Microsoft, Disney and General Motors — did not come armed with a lengthy agenda like Kundra or speak management-guru like VanRoekel. He showed up at events without the protec- tive screen of a confidential assistant or Office of Man- agement and Budget press handlers. He was entirely believable in the role he cast for himself: a dedicated IT manager who came to Washington, despite the ter- rible weather and worse traffic, to help land the planes. But not long after Scott started, the planes crashed. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT SEVERI 1215fcw_016-019.indd 17 11/17/15 9:07 AM