CIO University refills the pipeline

153 graduates received certificates after coursework in core CIO competencies

More than 150 students received certificates from the General Services Administration and the CIO Council Aug. 14 after completing master’s-level coursework through the CIO University. The university consortium awards certificates at the end of a program that takes students two or three years to complete.

The program addresses the executive core competencies established by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, which required federal agencies create CIO positions. The law, also known as the Information Technology Management Reform Act, established new rules for how the federal government acquires and manages information technology.

In addition to a CIO University certificate, students in the program receive master’s degrees in IT from their respective universities.

“This is powerful stuff,” said Larry Williams, academic program director at George Washington University’s School of Business. “We started seven years ago with just 18 students in the GW program. Last year, GW alone had 82 graduates. We give visual credentials and certification to potential CIOs who demonstrate they meet GSA’s learning objectives outlined in Clinger-Cohen. It fills the pipeline of future CIOs.”

The partnership between government and higher-education institutions began with four universities: George Mason University, George Washington University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland University College. Two more universities, Syracuse and La Salle, joined later.

“CIO University is a unique partnership between the federal government and academic institutions,” said Mary Mitchell, deputy associate administrator of technology strategy in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy. “Together, we aim to further educate capable IT professionals with mission-critical competencies to meet agency goals.”

According to GSA, about 40 percent of CIO University graduates are government employees. The other 60 percent come from the private sector.

“Within the first year, we had changed from just government employees to allowing private-sector students,” Williams said. “Now the majority of students are from the private sector.”

Williams said the program is popular with students and gives them a high degree of proficiency and distinction.

Several of the 153 graduates at the ceremony also praised the program. “Each week, we had a different topic — for example, IT security,” said Kevin Wright, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon. “The topics are relevant to current IT issues.”

“For those in the private sector looking for the federal aspect [of information technology], this helps,” said Jeffrey Linden of the National Institutes of Health. “Students have a great opportunity to learn from each other. We had numerous off-site learning opportunities and dinners with the class.”

Chandler is an intern at the 1105 Government Information Group.

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