OMB: No call for IT czar
- By William Matthews
- Apr 20, 2000
Members of Congress and some agency officials are promoting the plan for
an IT czar, but senior leaders at the Office of Management and Budget contend
that there already is a de facto IT czar — the DDM.
That's the OMB's deputy director for management. Although the post is technically
vacant, some of the duties are being performed by Sally Katzen, who was
nominated for it last June but has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Officially,
Katzen is counselor to OMB director Jacob Lew.
On Wednesday, Katzen made it clear she does not think appointing a governmentwide
chief information officer is a good idea.
"You need support from the top," she told a gathering of federal CIOs. "It
doesn't matter what the title is. You've got the DDM."
Katzen also said there has been substantial support from President Clinton,
who has been outspoken about closing the digital divide and promoting e-government.
And "Vice President Gore's interest is well publicized," she said.
On the other hand, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas)
have suggested that a federal IT czar could speed up progress toward e-government.
And they said they may introduce legislation to create the position.
The Democratic Leadership Council, meanwhile, is calling for an IT czar
who reports directly to the president and oversees a $500 million budget
for e-government projects.
Supporters are inspired by the successful computer transition from 1999
to 2000 led by Year 2000 czar John Koskinen. And recent hacker attacks and
denial-of-service strikes against government and commercial Web sites have
highlighted computer security problems and convinced many that a czar-led
defense is in order.
There also is uncertainty about what exactly e-government is and how federal
agencies are going to get there, which makes a czar with a vision and authority
to implement it appealing.