CIOs in the Hot Seat
Proving there's no business like CIO business, 14 of the government's
top information technology managers performed a sharply clever spoof of
the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" show April 19 during the otherwise techy
FOSE trade show.
Alan Balutis, deputy chief information officer at the Commerce Department,
donned a dark suit, dark shirt and dark tie to play the role of Regis Philbin,
and Sally Katzen, counselor to the director of the Office of Management
and Budget, was the breathless telephone lifeline as the CIOs used a question-and-
"is that your final answer" format to discuss the priorities of the federal
CIO Council. They never answered the question posed by the show's title,
"Who Wants to be a CIO?"
During the show, Katzen was asked about the need for a federal IT czar
and replied that the president provides leadership on IT matters and the
vice president's interest in IT "is well publicized."
"As any inventor's would be," cracked Balutis.
Looking for a Penalty Flag
Did the Office of Management and Budget prematurely punt the government's
much-lauded Year 2000 Information Coordination Center?
Proponents of the center on the Hill, among agencies and in industry
say OMB closed the facility on March 31 without adequately considering whether
it might serve other roles. For example, the center, which the government
used to coordinate management of the Year 2000 rollover in both the public
and private sectors, could play a similar role in government security initiatives,
some folks say.
OMB officials have said the ICC had served its purpose and was no longer
needed. But at least one federal official has said that OMB did not have
any documented justification for the decision but simply decided to shutter
the center. Regardless of whether OMB did its work, many seem to think it
was a bad play.
Location is Everything
OMB apparently has ticked off Commerce Secretary William Daley as well.
Last month, OMB decided to move the Critical Infrastructure Assurance
Office from its office down the street from the White House and the National
Security Council, which the CIAO supports for developing governmentwide
security policy, to a more remote office. The CIAO is actually under the
Commerce Department's Bureau of Export Administration, and Daley did not
appreciate having one of his offices facing exile to the remote regions
of Washington, D.C., for no apparent reason, a federal official said.
According to the official, the CIAO is going to be moving no matter
what, but Daley is working to get the office moved into Commerce headquarters.
It's the Thought that Counts
Give Commerce credit for trying. Earlier this month, the department
decided to go with one of its own contracts for desktop outsourcing rather
than the General Services Administration's governmentwide contract. The
Commerce Information Technology Solutions (Commits) program is focused on
giving business to small, disadvantaged businesses. Officials said they
felt obligated to support the program.
But according to an official involved in the GSA Seat Management contract,
several small Commits vendors have formed partnerships with or been acquired
by large vendors on the Seat contract. So who's doing the work is anyone's