EDITORIAL

Set a place at the table for CIOs

The federal government's struggle to integrate the chief information officer position into the day-to-day business of an agency is well documented. So the Information Technology Association of America's latest report showing that many CIOs still feel left out of the decision-making process comes as no surprise.

Nearly two years after the Clinger-Cohen Act called for the creation of CIO positions at 26 federal agencies, CIOs have yet to receive the figurative "seat at the table."

Early on, it was recognized that an agency director's attitude concerning the value and purpose of the CIO is critical to the success of the position. Yet, time after time, federal CIOs report they remain "junior members" of agencies' executive management teams, unable to garner authority to affect change. As we move swiftly toward the next century, it is essential that CIOs receive the management and budget responsibilities that are necessary to tackle critical issues.

It seems ridiculous to us that CIOs should be forced to defend and account for information technology budgets that they have no say in formulating. The situation becomes absurd, if you believe the CIOs, that fingers will point at them if their agencies' computers fail as a result of the Year 2000 problem.

The outcome of such significant issues as Year 2000 and ongoing IT work force planning will be swift and unforgiving if CIOs are not given the tools they need to make a difference. It is long overdue to give CIOs the management responsibility they need and deserve. To do otherwise, on a personal level, is unfair to CIOs and, on a national level, increases the risk of more over-budget computer projects and the risk of computer shutdowns.

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