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FCW : March 30, 2016
DAVE McCLURE is chief strategist at Veris Group. Commentary | DAVE M c CLURE The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is the latest embodiment of federal CIO success factors in the era since the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act. I played an instrumental role in advocating and codifying the federal CIO posi- tion into law, and I think it is use- ful to revisit a CIO “best practices” report I led while at the Govern- ment Accountability Office some 15 years ago (when it was still known as the General Accounting Office). As former GAO executive Jeff Steinhoff used to say, true leading practices are like fine champagne: They should only improve in value as they age. The report has a great deal of overlap with FITARA and the IT Management Maturity Model devel- oped by ACT-IAC in September 2015. To me, it demonstrates that after some 20 years of having CIO positions in place in the federal government, the song for success remains largely the same: The CIO role must be empowered. It must be positioned within an agency’s governance process. It must lead credible and measurable IT results that improve government programs and services. And it must be prop- erly resourced with skilled employ- ees and adequate budgets. Sound familiar? FITARA codi- fies those matters more than the Clinger-Cohen Act did, but both were grounded in the same fun- damentals. Importantly, the first principle in the GAO report does not deal with ensuring that the CIO has a seat at the senior executive table. (We called that “positioning the CIO for success,” and it came second.) Rather, the report notes that organizations must first come to grips with the critical role that information and technology man- agement plays in mission and busi- ness success. It cannot be legislat- ed or made a compliance issue; it must be embedded into the fabric of senior leadership. The three critical success fac- tors, six principles and various other key characteristics we identi- fied in 2001 as major determinants of CIO success prompt a sense of déjà vu today. Some of the leading industry CIOs at the time strongly endorsed the practices we outlined in the report. I suspect the same would be true if we took a poll today. Those practices should remind us of the critical factors affecting FITARA implementation and exe- cution. Scorecards that ignore how agencies are improving IT results tend to miss the boat. For example, FITARA has imposed a larger number of checks and controls to ensure business- side buy-in and mitigate the risks associated with IT project failures. Those additions are well intended, but government technology deci- sions must now involve diverse players representing program offices and the legal, finance, pro- curement, compliance and privacy offices. If that collaborative governance process is not run well, we are back to long project timelines and “fuzzy” IT outcomes. To avoid such traps and snares, CIOs must cohesively bring their senior IT leadership teams to the enterprise management and gover- nance decision-making table. And those CIOs must be well prepared and have stellar track records. We will change administrations in a little less than a year. New CIOs and newly appointed politi- cal heads of agencies will be part of that transition. It would be prudent for any administration’s transition team to review GAO’s 2001 “Maximizing the Success of Chief Information Officers” report and push agency heads and CIO/ IT leadership teams to embrace the report’s guidelines as they imple- ment FITARA. n CIO success: Does the song remain the same? The advice in a 15-year-old Government Accountability Office report is remarkably relevant to the CIO’s role in the FITARA era 3 ways to maximize CIO success • Align information management leadership for value creation. • Promote organizational credibility. • Execute CIO responsibilities. Source: 2001 GAO report. Full text available at is.gd/FCW_CIO_success. March 30, 2016 FCW.COM 11 0330fcw_011.indd 11 3/9/16 3:20 PM
March 15, 2016
April 15, 2016