Editorial: Why CIOs matter

As we looked back at 2005, we noticed that the role of chief information officers kept coming up. Agency CIOs faced various mandates, and some individuals chose to leave government. Those stories, combined with the 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Clinger- Cohen Act on Jan. 3, spurred us to dedicate Federal Computer Week's annual Watch List issue to addressing the question: Do CIOs matter?

The act's requirement that most agencies establish CIO positions was a seminal development in the way the government views information technology. No longer was the IT manager merely the person who made sure desktop PCs worked. Instead, the legislation tacitly acknowledged that IT was essential in enabling the government to carry out its various missions, and it mandated that one person spearhead those efforts as an essential part of the management team.

Those sentiments remain true 10 years later.

Unfortunately, some agencies have dodged the mandate. For example, they might have met the letter of the law by naming a deputy director for management but essentially leaving responsibility for most IT duties where they were. Even today, some agencies, including the Homeland Security Department, don't even list the CIO on their organizational chart.

Perhaps we aren't the most objective observers, but we believe that CIOs -- or whatever agencies call them -- do matter. IT is just as important to carrying out agency missions as it was 10 years ago, perhaps more important. Yet CIOs -- in fact, everybody in the IT community -- should remember that missions are paramount. IT's role is to help agencies achieve those missions more effectively.

Karen Evans, who as administrator of e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget serves as the de facto government CIO, expressed it well in her interview with Federal Computer Week: Those who add value earn a seat at the table.

"What really happens is the person has to earn that seat and keep the seat," she said. "Where that comes from is the value that you bring and the results that you achieve."

-- Christopher J. Dorobek

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group