Letters to the Editor
Good for Government
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 in mind 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 CIOs are not too competent, who has the technical knowledge to
know they're not making good decisions? A departmental secretary and other
departmental managers don't because IT is a field most of them know little
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
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
E-Governance Exec Needed
The new Digital Era has given rise to the need to transform our governmental
structure, which is largely the product of the Industrial Era, to a system
based on functionality rather than jurisdiction.
This new era requires a new business model, one that will drive change
in our structure and in our behavior to respond to and effectively move
forward and transform into a Knowledge Age smart government.
What many are talking about is the need for an e-governance program
in federal agencies.
The e-governance senior executive is similar to a business CEO — leading,
communicating and coordinating among the various business lines to change
our relationship across government, with our citizen shareholders and with
private industry partners.
While the e-governance program would work closely with the agency CIO,
the CIO's focus is on the tools or the means. The e-governance program's
focus is on the business content and how the federal government and citizens
wish to interact.
To effectively move government to the next level in service delivery,
we must establish a new business model, with an e-governance program as
If we do not and instead retrofit the Digital Era into the existing
technology model, we will be creating "e-stovepipes" along with a new
generation of citizens dissatisfied with their government.
Name withheld upon requestSetting E-Records Straight
Readers of your article titled "Archives tests e-records" [FCW, June
26] will be misled without the following information.
The article begins by saying that the National Archives and Records
Administration "hopes" that a system we will test for managing electronic
records "will be smart enough to read documents as they are created and
decide which are important enough to be kept as official records and where
and for how long they should be stored."
The system will make no determination of what is or is not a record
or how long anything should be stored. The system uses artificial intelligence
to determine in which file a record should be filed.
Your article's second paragraph says, "How well the test system works
will tell archivists a lot about how soon their plan for a fully electronic
archive might be achievable."
The electronic records archives on which we are working does not depend
on the "test system."
Elsewhere as well your article seems to confuse our proj-ect to preserve
electronic records accessibly and indefinitely with our project to test
a records management application.
I hope this will be helpful to you and your readers. Federal Computer
Week is an important publication to NARA.
Director, Communications Staff
National Archives and Records Administration