Council plans to offer high-level IT training to CIOs

The federal Chief Information Officers Council plans to issue a solicitation late this year to colleges and universities to establish a curriculum geared to the education requirements of high-level information technology executives and managers in the federal government.

The new program, dubbed the CIO University, next fall will begin training CIOs and those aspiring to become CIOs to achieve the "core competencies" necessary to do the job, program officials said.

Department of Housing and Urban Development CIO Gloria Parker, chairwoman of the Education and Training Subcommittee of the CIO Council, said existing courses are not adequate to address the specific needs of senior IT executives. "We really looked hard at whether we needed to do something new," Parker said. "We felt that most of the things we have today are not focused on the federal CIO or senior management of any federal agency. Most of it is geared to the IT professional.

"Secondly, we wanted a good mix of industry and public-sector issues," she continued. "And in a lot of the things we see today, there is not a strong mingling of those issues. And third, we wanted something geared to civil agencies. Today DOD probably has the best training programs for IT, but they are not designed for civil agencies."

Parker said the government will ask universities and other education organizations to submit proposals on how to train federal and private-sector employees on the set of core competencies developed by the CIO Council. These subject areas cover IT investment strategies, capital planning, resource management, the Clinger-Cohen Act, business process re-engineering, IT architectures and cost justifications.

Emory Miller, the director of IT professional development at the General Services Administration and the brains behind the CIO University concept, said courses will emphasize practical applications rather than theory. He said CIOs should be able to select courses to address their specific areas of interest. For example, a CIO could focus on capital planning without necessarily receiving instruction in other facets of the curriculum, he said.

Miller said the government will encourage organizations responding to the solicitation to be creative in terms of ways to deliver training. He said options such as distance learning and weekend seminars may be attractive to potential students.

Parker said the university will begin as a pilot next year, and the council will work with education groups to refine the curriculum as the program proceeds. She said the tests will probably last a year. "There may be only a couple of universities involved in the pilot," she said. "We won't open it up to the masses during the tests."

The program has received $50,000 in funding for this year and another $50,000 for 1999.

Miller said the government will begin soliciting proposals from education organizations in November or December.

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