A Tribute to New CIOs

In the wake of November's elections, several state and local governments will name new executives to take over top information technology jobs. New chief information officers will be starting in California, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., among other jurisdictions. They will join others just settling into new roles after having been installed after the last elections.

We salute the men and women who are daring to jump into the job of public-sector CIO at this critical time for technology policy-making.

The Year 2000 date-change horizon is only one year away. Anyone who has taken a CIO job in the past year likely will be held accountable for getting the information systems job done. Their ramp-up time is nil, and their success will depend largely on how well the stage has been set for them. Although it will be tempting to blame any failure on the situation the new CIOs inherited, their predecessors will be long gone, and the new CIOs will have to take the heat.

On the other hand, the opportunity for CIOs to make a difference in state communities is enormous. Preparing for the Year 2000 emergency is like setting up a disaster-recovery program, but the time of the crisis can be pinpointed. The work of state and local information and technology officers in preparing communities for the date change will go well beyond plotting information systems tactics. They and their staffs will be deeply involved in strengthening the total civic safety net.

Most new CIOs also will face a bewildering set of competing demands in the coming year, such as deciding on an electronic commerce strategy, training and retaining competent IS staff and deciding whether to outsource certain jobs. Indeed, many states have been able to make progress on technical issues such as electronic buying in spite of the Year 2000 menace. (See our story on the E-Mall, Page 12.)

So while it's probably one of the riskier times to be entering senior management in public-sector IT, it's also potentially one of the most rewarding.

So here's to those who have decided they like the odds.

Paul McCloskey

Editor

civic.com

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