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FCW : March 30, 2016
18 March 30, 2016 FCW.COM Management 3 Your time is not your own Private-sector CIOs are busy, too, but they generally are not swarmed by contractors at every public meeting or called to testify before Congress. “The CIO role will consume all your waking hours,” Federal Communica- tions Commission CIO David Bray warned. That immersion can be good, he added, but “being a public-service CIO is not something one can do for eight to nine hours and then head home.... You are ‘on-demand’ 24/7 at any time for your organization’s leadership, for the U.S. public and for your organization’s stakeholders — when they have questions, when something isn’t working or when a thorny issue needs resolving.” technology per se than it is provid- ing leadership and a calm presence in the face of constrained resources and massive amounts of legacy sys- tems,” he said. Whether the challenge is a late- night distributed denial-of-service attack or the realization that the “budget is frozen for the sixth year in a row,” an agency CIO must be able to put on “a brave game face no mat- ter what the odds are that evening,” he added. A new CIO is also expected to understand the intricacies of a situ- ation without losing sight of the big picture, Wynn said. “Details matter more as the CIO,” she added. “You’ll need to understand the details and interdependencies...so that your projects are adding value and the mission projects are not disrupted.” “Any of us who have come out of the private sector...really do know the substance and the content” of the technology, Cooper said. “But I tremendously underestimated the learning curve of all the federal poli- cies, oversight rules, governance and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that go into things.” 5 Government doesn’t have to be intransigent If new CIOs are generally unprepared for the acquisition hoops and other mumbo-jumbo, most candidates come in fully expecting a hidebound bureaucracy that resists all meaning- ful change. Yet “government is more pliable that I thought it was going to be,” Schwartz said. “I didn’t initially push as hard as I might have because people said change wasn’t possible.” He quickly learned, however, that many in government want change and will respond if challenged and supported. “If you say, ‘We can do this,’ we can,” Schwartz said. “There’s more flexibility [at EPA] than when I was at HP,” Dunkin said. “Being a public- service CIO is not something one can do for eight to nine hours and then head home.... Yo u are ‘on-demand’ 24/7 at any time.” — FCC CIO DAVID BRAY Cooper recalled being shocked at how little collaboration took place across agencies compared to his private-sector experience, and he attributed it to time constraints more than any innate aversion to working together. “The list of things that I have to do as a federal CIO — oversight, compliance, governance, things that just come at your office...I think is probably greater than there was for me in the private sector,” he said. “I had more choice in the private sec- tor as to what I could set aside and do when I got to it as opposed to I’ve got to do it because somebody on the Hill or somebody in [the Gov- ernment Accountability Office] or somebody in my [inspector gener- al’s] office is holding me accountable yesterday.” Dunkin said a friend of hers recently visited from California and was astonished by the never- ending nature of her job. “You really are always on,” she said. 4 Tech expertise is necessary but not sufficient The Professional Services Coun- cil’s David Wennergren, a former Navy Department CIO and Defense Department IT execu- tive, declared that “the ability to successfully lead change is the most important job skill.” “Understanding and being articulate on the opportunities that technology presents [are] important,” he said, but “by far the most important job skill is the ability to address cultural change issues, build coalitions and deliver meaningful change that will live on beyond your ten- ure as CIO.” Bray also stressed the change- agent role. “Being a public- service CIO is much less about 0330fcw_016-019.indd 18 3/9/16 10:26 AM
March 15, 2016
April 15, 2016