The Circuit

Callahan Heads to DHS: Strassmann: Empower CIOs; Rep. Davis on 'Fast Track'

Callahan Heads to DHS

The chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department (DHS) is quickly putting together his team. The latest addition is the Labor Department's deputy chief information officer, Laura Callahan, who will join DHS April 1.

Callahan will be senior director of the office that will oversee enterprise initiatives such as disaster management and Project SafeCom, a communications network linking first responders, DHS CIO Steve Cooper told Federal Computer Week. "We're moving as fast as we can," he said.

Other new recruits include Scott Hastings, former CIO at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Woody Hall, former CIO at the Customs Service. Both agencies have been folded into the department, and Hastings and Hall will have similar responsibilities in their new roles.

Ron Miller, who had been CIO at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and on detail to DHS, is moving to the Small Business Administration, where he will take a newly created job handling policy and the "transformational lead."

Cooper told the Northern Virginia Technology Council last week that he would also like to hire Nathaniel Heiner, chief knowledge officer at the Coast Guard, who has been detailed to the new department for 90 days. But Cooper has not yet persuaded the Coast Guard to let Heiner go.

Strassmann: Empower CIOs

NASA's acting CIO, Paul Strassmann, wants to see the next generation of CIOs accorded a status akin to that of chief financial officers.

The CIOs of the future must function strategically and create and protect knowledge, not physical assets such as computers and software, Strassmann told attendees at a March 19 luncheon sponsored by the Washington, D.C., chapter of AFCEA International.

"The primary job of a CIO is power politics," he said. "The game is not technology any more. From now on, it is a game about budget."

Few CIOs, however, can win the political game because there are hardly any acceptable practices to follow and even emerging rules cannot keep pace with information technology, Strassmann said. Further weakening their role is the limited control they have over allocations, he added.

CFOs, meanwhile, have accounting principles and must qualify for their positions through accreditation and certification, Strassman noted. And CFOs sit at the table during all budgetary decisions.

He would like to see CIOs join them there. He envisions a time when both parties will sign off on financial statements.

Strassman plans to leave NASA, but there is no word yet on his departure date or his successor, officials say.

Rep. Davis on 'Fast Track'

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, told the Council for Excellence in Government that he intends to move "fast track" legislation to the House floor.

The bill would give the Bush administration the power to expedite changes in the structure of government agencies and departments. Lawmakers and White House officials haggled over the issue in the months leading up to the creation of the new Homeland Security Department, which consolidates 22 agencies.

"Nobody wants to lose committee jurisdiction," Davis said March 18, explaining Congress' resistance to giving Bush the authority to reorganize agencies. n

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