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FCW : February 2014
Pro le 26 February 2014 FCW.COM Graves told FCW that in her 11 years in IT operations at DHS, she has grown to appreciate technology s in uence on the department s complex operational needs. Graves created the Enterprise Business Management Of ce in the DHS CIO s of ce and was its rst executive director. That effort and others have focused on making sure the agency s IT infrastructure serves its diverse users without compromising the 22 component agencies unique operational environments, she said. Graves also established business processes for capital planning and investment control, departmental IT budget reviews, and acquisition reviews. And she was the deputy program manager for the Border and Transportation Secu- rity IT Integration Program, which established the opera- tional foundation for the agency s current Infrastructure Transformation Program --- the road map for consolidating and securing IT infrastructure. "Our approach to IT underpins our success," she said. "We started with an understanding that we need a commu- nity within DHS. We built DHS of ce of IT from scratch." DHS has its own CIO council, and Graves said the senior security and infrastructure of cers at each component agen- cy also collaborate on how the agency plans and uses its IT resources. The council and component senior infrastructure of cers evaluate IT projects before they are implemented, building a sense of community and mission. "We ve continued to de ne community and to under- stand things at the enterprise and component level and in between," she said. That emphasis on community and collaboration also extends beyond the department. Through ACT-IAC, the public/private organization that works to improve federal IT, Graves has sought to foster better collaboration among agencies and with the private sector. In 2013, while serving as acting CIO at DHS, she was also the government chairwoman for ACT-IAC s Executive Leadership Conference --- a signature event for the federal IT community. "Margie has had success in bringing people together at ACT-IAC and at DHS," Chenok said. An advocate for emerging tech One effort that grew out of that community approach was DHS strong push to cloud computing. "Once we addressed security," Graves said, "we looked at what we should do with private and public cloud." Both gure prominently in DHS plans for future IT efforts, she added. Cybersecurity is another area where DHS has made sig- ni cant progress, Graves said. In its early days, it was criti- cized for not putting enough emphasis on cybersecurity, but she said the department has worked within the Obama administration s Digital Government Strategy to understand the wide spectrum of cybersecurity needs at DHS. The department has also expanded its internal pro- grams to grow its own crop of cybersecurity profession- als, improved its ability to detect network intrusions, and expanded facilities such as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to share real-time threat information with critical infrastructure providers. With its work on cloud computing, big data, cybersecu- rity, virtualization and other technologies, DHS has grown into something of a go-to expert on emerging technologies for other government agencies. For instance, Graves and her colleagues work closely with the General Services Administration to run FedRAMP s Joint Authorization Board, which is the government s gate- keeper for cloud services. It assesses cloud providers and grants approval to companies that meet government security standards for cloud deployments in low- and moderate-risk environments --- a critical step as the June 5 deadline for FedRAMP compliance approaches. Graves served as acting CIO at DHS until December 2013, when Luke McCormack --- former CIO at the Justice Depart- ment --- took over. Now she is back in her familiar role as deputy CIO and helping her new boss keep the department s many initiatives moving forward. "We ve matured dramatically," Graves said. "I credit the folks who come to work with the mission in mind. We ve consistently improved." Then she added: "That doesn t mean we don t have more to do." ■ Her rst thought is how to leverage DHS and cross-community resources. I ve seen it several times --- that focus and her ability to work within the network to get the job done. --- Dan Chenok, IBM Center for the Business of Government
March 15, 2014