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FCW : November and December 2015
November/December 2015 FCW.COM 19 “Over time it became apparent that it was a challenging opportunity and one where I felt that I could make a unique contribution,” Scott said. He came on board in February. In his second day on the job, Scott found himself in the Oval Office brief- ing Obama. Although Scott declined to share details on his interactions with the president, he said he has offered advice on a range of issues related to IT in gov- ernment. Scott’s was among the voices that prevailed in the long-running conver- sation about how to handle high-grade commercial encryption. “At the end of the day, I think the better policy is probably not to require these backdoors” for law enforcement to access encrypted communications from commercial providers, Scott said. The problem is as much practical as it is technological, he added: Smart program- mers who aren’t subject to U.S. law will put functionally unbreakable encryption on the market. “All the really bad people who are high- ly motivated to keep their stuff secret are going to use the encryption method that doesn’t have a backdoor,” he said. At the same time, by giving law enforcement a window into encrypted communications, the government would create an “easy button” that could end up thwarting other investigative work. “It actually makes you a little less effective than if you used all of the tools and resources that are available to you,” Scott said. Political cover for a final push? Scott has been pleased with his relation- ship with Congress. He has appeared before committees to talk about the OPM hack, FITARA implementation and other IT issues. At the same time, he noted, the bipartisan agreement about IT is centered on the perception that federal agencies are moving too slowly to modernize, spending too much money, and relying on creaky and vulnerable technology. “Most people agree that there’s a lot of work to do [and] that we’re way behind the point where we should be and way behind private industry in terms of mod- ernizing,” Scott said. He said he is seeking to advance the IT procurement cause now that FITARA is law by talking more seriously about funding mechanisms that can be used to “accelerate the move to some more modern platforms.” And so far, Scott appears to be well- liked on the Hill. “Tony’s got a very difficult job, but he has a great background and experience on how to do it,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said. “It seems like he’s getting the right kind of support that he needs in order to be successful at his job. I think he’s a smart guy, he’s a thoughtful guy, and he knows how to work with people.” Hurd, a former CIA officer and cyber- security specialist who leads the IT Sub- committee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, added, “This is an issue that transcends political affiliation. This is about protecting the federal government, this is about pro- tecting the citizens of the United States of America, and this is something that... shouldn’t be tainted by partisanship.” Scott, for his part, said he hopes to stay around until the lights go out on the Obama administration. “It’s been both the opportunity and the challenge of a lifetime,” he said. “I’m going to stick it out as long as they’ll have me.” By the end of the term, Scott said he wants to get to 100 percent use of PIV cards for privileged users of federal sys- tems. He would also like to see more sig- nificant progress on replacing outdated systems, an overall reduction in the num- ber of privileged users and more attention paid to patching existing vulnerabilities. “One thing I know from my private- sector experience — and I think it holds true in the public sector — is if you’re slow, you’re dead,” he said. “So you’d bet- ter figure out how to be faster and faster and faster, or I don’t like the outcome. Certainly, federal IT has to become that way.” Scott knows it is impossible to leave a clean in-box for his successor, wheth- er he or she serves in a Democratic or Republican administration. But he’d like to leave a playbook behind for the next U.S. CIO — something that would serve as “a homework list for my successor that outlines, at least from my perspective, the opportunities and challenges” of the role. He also plans to attach a note that reads, “Congratulations. It’s the best job you’ll ever have.” n “Where the digital services teams have done work, they’ve really made some important contributions in the most critical of the consumer- or citizen-facing services.” 1215fcw_016-019.indd 19 11/17/15 9:07 AM