CXOs focus on collaboration as key to better management

GAO has proposed that some Cabinet-level agencies create a new position of chief managing officer

Nearly every federal agency faces three fundamental management challenges, said J. Christopher Mihm, managing director of strategic issues at the Government Accountability Office.

Those challenges, he said, are raising awareness about problems that an agency must address, integrating internal management responsibilities and institutionalizing changes.

“Every agency needs some mechanism for elevating, integrating and institutionalizing,” Mihm said during a speech this month at the Industry Advisory Council-sponsored Management of Change Conference at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

GAO has proposed that some Cabinet-level agencies establish a new position of chief managing officer (CMO) or chief operations officer to coordinate communications and collaboration among other chiefs, such as chief information officers, chief financial officers and chief privacy officers.

GAO published a report in 2005 recommending that the Homeland Security and Defense departments each create a CMO to manage change and other challenges. But CMOs are unnecessary, Mihm said, if good communication already exists among CXOs.

Substantial collaboration on management issues occurs via the Office of Management and Budget and interagency councils, such as the CIO Council and the CFO Council. Federal and industry officials at the conference discussed a proposal that leaders of the various federal councils meet once or twice a year to discuss and coordinate policies, procedures and practices.

“Whatever model ends up being used, there is clearly a growing appreciation that [CXOs] need to work together,” Mihm said. The success of one management function is dependent in large part on other management functions, he added.

“There’s a CFO community, there’s a CIO community,” said Gregory Parham, CIO at the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“The question, is how do we coordinate the activities across all of them?” Parham said.

Dale Luddeke, vice president of resources and environmental services at Computer Sciences Corp., leads one of two industry task forces formed to propose collaborative models. Luddeke said the group he established in October 2005 is continuing to develop various models.

The inability to share information hampered rescue efforts after the terrorist attacks in 2001, said retired Air Force CIO John Gilligan.

“Sharing information within the federal government is difficult to do, even at this time, almost four years later,” Gilligan said.


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