CIOs need status, support

If federal chief information officers are to be successful, they must have status and support among the agency administration, government and industry officials testified before Congress last week.

In the four years since the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act created the federal CIO, some agencies have done better than others in shaping the CIO position and its place within the agency, said David McClure, associate director of governmentwide and defense information systems at the General Accounting Office's Accounting and Information Management Division. Although many CIOs have established a higher level of credibility within their agency, they often are not at the top level of the agency's management structure and do not have the full support of the rest of the agency leadership, McClure said in testimony Friday before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

"The success of the CIO heavily depends of the senior management understanding the role of the CIO within the organization," he said. "Agency leaders must help facilitate success in the IT arena. CIOs are critical, but they cannot do it alone."

At the state level, many CIOs have such high status: Twenty-seven report directly to the governor. "IT is how business is delivered in government; therefore, the CIO must be a party to the highest level of business decisions," said Otto Doll, president of the National Association of State Information Resource Executives.

The CIO's participation in budget consideration also is key, according to testimony last week by federal, state and industry representatives.

"If CIOs are to be held responsible and accountable for results, they will need the authority to influence resource decisions," said Jim Flyzik, CIO at the Treasury Department and vice chairman of the CIO Council.

At the hearing, GAO released a new executive guide on maximizing the success of CIOs within the federal government. The guide (GAO/AIMD-00-83) soon will be available on the GAO World Wide Web site at www.gao.gov.

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