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

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

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

the driver.

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.

Gerald George

Director, Communications Staff

National Archives and Records Administration

WRITE US

We welcome your comments.

To send a letter to the editor, e-mail us at letters@fcw.com. Please includeyour full name and a phone number for verification. We can withhold yourname upon request.

Letters may be edited for clarity and for space constraints in the printversion of FCW.

July 17, 2000

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