CIOs use Y2K to enhance visibility

Government chief information officers are using the visibility they have gained doing Year 2000 fixes to improve their status within the agencies they work for, according to the Information Technology Association of America's ninth annual survey of 25 government CIOs, deputy CIOs and information resource management officials.

Federal executives have relied heavily on CIOs as they answer demands for accountability from Congress and the administration, said Paul Wohlleben, director of information technology consulting for Grant Thornton LLP and co-chairman of the ITAA's 1998 CIO Survey Task Group.

"There's been this natural, almost magnetic, effect of pulling the CIO in," Wohlleben said in a briefing as the survey results were released today. CIOs said they felt closer to their agency's inner circle particularly because of Year 2000.

"And they also recognize that their success with Y2K will have a significant impact of whether they can maintain...or continue to leverage off of where they are positioned now," Wohlleben said.

The finding contrasts with last year's survey which quoted many CIOs as saying they felt they did not have a place at the table, said Olga Grkavac, executive vice president of the ITAA's Enterprise Solutions Division.

Resolving Year 2000 problems remains the No. 1 issue for the officials, but issues such as security and the shortage of IT professionals are looming on the horizon and will occupy federal CIOs' time soon after millennium bug problems are laid to rest, the survey showed.

Wohlleben said CIOs also will have to confront "pent-up demand" for a lot of IT solutions and equipment that took a back-burner position while Year 2000 problems were addressed.

The 25 government officials who participated in the survey included 19 CIOs, deputy CIOs or acting CIOs. ITAA interviewed the officials in person for the survey between July and November last year.

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