Buzz of the Week: 168 days in the life of the DHS CIO

Many people say Richard Mangogna has one of the toughest jobs in government. As the Homeland Security Department’s new chief information officer — the third person to hold that post — he now spearheads DHS’ efforts to bring the information technology initiatives of 22 organizations into one department.

But that difficult task is only made more complex by the fact that, as a political appointee, Mangogna does not have much time with which to work. He was appointed to the job April 8, and the administration ends in January. He has only 168 days left.

In an interview with Federal Computer Week, Mangogna said that near the top of his to-do list is finding a deputy CIO. The former deputy CIO, Charlie Armstrong, left that post June 9 to become the CIO at DHS’ Customs and Border Protection agency. The deputy job is critically important. Again, next Jan. 20 looms, and having a good deputy in place becomes critically important for continuity and transition.

We asked Mangogna how one deals with the time factor. He stressed that he is well aware he can only do so much. “I wouldn’t have taken this job if the secretary wasn’t realistic about what could be accomplished,” he said. Therefore, Mangogna said he is focusing on three key initiatives:


  • Implementing DHS’s OneNet.

  • Consolidation of DHS’ data centers.

  • Cybersecurity.


And Mangogna should have a good idea about mergers and acquisitions. Before coming out of retirement to take on the DHS CIO duties — his first stint as a government employee — he served as the CIO of JP Morgan Chase, where he was responsible for managing 28,000 technology and bank operational people in 26 countries around the world.

We’ll have a Q&A with Mangogna in the Aug. 11 issue of Federal Computer Week. Meanwhile, one can only imagine that the next 168 days are going to be very busy.

BUZZ CONTENDERS

#2 Just what do they mean by ‘risk?’

The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program should spend more of its funding on “high-risk/high-reward” research, according to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The council made the pitch last week at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing.

Hmm...”high risk” could just mean a good chance that an idea doesn’t pan out. But if you recall, not too long ago, the European outfit called the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN, in French) built a particle accelerator that could suck the Earth into a black hole later this year. So, we’d like more information on this.

#3 More drain of the OFPP brains
Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, is set to leave, according to insider sources. He’ll step down at the start of September, if what we hear is true.

Robert Burton, Denett’s deputy at OFPP, left his post late last month. Will there be anyone left at the top?
Denett entered the OFPP job at a difficult time, following the arrest and indictment of his predecessor, David Safavian. With Denett and Burton gone, the next president will need to make smart appointments to keep the office on an even keel.

#4 DHS: No rest for info-sharing system
There’s no need to slow down the development of the new version of DHS’ national collaborative platform for sharing sensitive but unclassified information, said Harry McDavid, chief information officer for DHS’ Office of Operations Coordination, which is developing the updated platform. Some members of Congress had asked DHS to stop working on it for a short time so that state and local authorities can determine what they need from the system.

McDavid said DHS has the information it needs for now and is developing the system with continued input from end users. The reaction of some lawmakers to  this confident declaration is certainly sensitive, but unclassified.

#5 Is Jim Williams in or out?
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week unanimously approved the nomination of Jim Williams to become administrator of the General Services Administration and sent it to the full Senate for consideration. But Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) put a hold on the nomination, citing his distrust of Williams based on the recent dust-up between GSA and Sun Microsystems.
The saga continues.

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