Letter to the editor

As an agency information technology manager, I am strongly in favor of an

overall federal chief information officer. Standard policies and practices

throughout government must be centralized in one place. A committee of departmental

CIOs will not be able to accomplish this, as they all necessarily have their

own interests rather than what's good for the government as a whole.

A second reason I haven't heard mentioned is the varying degrees of competence

among departmental CIOs. The CIO of my department is not very well-respected

within the department because he is perceived as dictating from his "ivory

tower" — usually through publications — and does not work with departmental

IT staff. For example, in more than a year on the job, he has never met

with the IT heads of the departmental agencies as a group, even though this

group met quarterly before his arrival. He may be a fine fellow in person — I wouldn't know, as I've never met him — but as a CIO, he hasn't impressed

at all.

When a CIO is not too competent, who has the technical knowledge to know

he's not making good decisions? A departmental secretary and other departmental

mangers don't because IT is a field most of them know little about.

An overall federal CIO and his or her staff would have the technical background

to make a more informed assessment of a departmental CIO's actions, policies

and practices and could provide feedback to the CIO and to the CIO's management.

With an overall federal CIO, it's less likely that individual departments

will go astray just because the departmental CIO isn't as competent. So

a federal CIO is a must.

Name withheld upon request

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