Nightmare lesson for CIOs

Sept. 11 was a nightmare for chief information officers, but they learned valuable lessons to keep mistakes from happening again, according to Jim Flyzik, vice chairman of the CIO Council and chief information officer at the Treasury Department.

"We did as well as could be expected. All of our procedures were put to the test," Flyzik told reporters at a briefing Oct. 15 during the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference in Hershey, Pa.

Flyzik said the day taught government an important lesson: "Your plans don't work well."

Now, government officials are investigating what worked and what went wrong when terrorists hijacked four passenger jets and attacked New York City and the Pentagon, Flyzik said.

Many government officials are now wearing two-way pagers because they discovered that cell phones didn't work during the crisis, he said. Others are experimenting with other kinds of technology so there will be no repeat of the Sept. 11 communications snafus.

And many government officials are being equipped with BlackBerry handhelds from Research In Motion Ltd., the only type of handheld computer that was able to communicate during the crisis via e-mail, according to numerous government officials.

"We're ready now. We're as ready as we can be," Flyzik said.

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