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FCW : January 2016
18 April 15,2015 FCW.COM FCW Roundtable 18 January 2016 FCW.COM over the place. There’s not one model. Agen- cies treat IT very differently. It’s moving in a more consistent direction, but it’s not yet consistent.” And while getting buy-in from elsewhere in the organization is crucial (see next sec- tion), the CIOs acknowledged that the new mindset begins with them. “One of the things I like to say in these meetings we have with undersecretaries and others is that the IT is never more important than the program, but the pro- grams can’t operate without the IT,” one CIO said. “Historically, we haven’t thought about the IT as [being as] important as the program policy. We sit in the back of the room sometimes when these meetings hap- pen. I don’t think we can do what [FITARA calls for] until we’re always sitting at the front.” And to be taken seriously, CIO offices must do a better job on the basics, another CIO said. “It’s hard for me to go in and complain about a $5 million procurement [done with- out CIO input] if my email is not up,” that CIO said. “If they are having a bad expe- rience with the services you’re presently providing...it is very hard to go and put a stop-work [order] on a contract that might have a mission impact.” Yet for all the obstacles, FITARA “is starting to get momen- tum,” one executive said. “I’ve been doing this for quite a while.... I’m excited about the fact that there seems to be some real commitment [to] getting down and going out and figuring the stuff out.” ...but battling for buy-in... The biggest challenge, participants agreed, is still on the people front: getting buy-in from agency heads, acquisition shops and mission owners at their agencies. “Traditionally, money doesn’t go in one place to be spent on IT,” one executive said. And “people aren’t expecting it all to be spent by the CIO.... People don’t even know how to work in that manner. You can’t switch because no one’s ever done [it] like that.” The participants noted that the changes don’t just involve CIOs and acquisition offi- cers, but also Office of Management and Budget examiners and even congressional appropriators. “We’re going to need to have a very direct conversation about what is IT,” one CIO said. “That’s a huge part of the problem right now and one that is missing.... Everybody can say, ‘Go to A-130,’ but we need to have a real hard discussion about that.” Several participants said one way to force those discussions is to take an expansive view of FITARA’s CIO authority and insist that the CIO review everything remotely IT-related. “You can make a pretty quick assessment whether it’s going to be IT or it’s not,” one CIO said. “If it looks like IT, smells like IT or smells like services, it crosses my desk. You have to cre- ate that environment with the contract community where they can stop procurement and say, ‘I need a secondary review.’ And you need to ensure that [the review is quick and efficient so] that you’re not impeding the mission.” “IF THEY ARE HAVING A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH THE SERVICES YOU’RE PRESENTLY PROVIDING...IT IS VERY HARD TO GO AND PUT A STOP-WORK [ORDER] ON A CONTRACT THAT MIGHT HAVE A MISSION IMPACT.” 0116fcw_016-024.indd 18 1/6/16 1:47 PM
November and December 2015