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
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