IRS picks CIO, top deputy

The Internal Revenue Service has turned once again to its in-house experts to fill key information technology positions, including that of chief information officer.

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson named W. Todd Grams as the agency's next CIO May 22. Grams will leave his position as chief financial officer at the agency to become CIO on June 1. He replaces John Reece, who announced his departure and intention to return to industry in February.

The decision to choose someone from inside the agency is not surprising, according to Alan Balutis, president and chief operating officer of Veridyne Inc. and former deputy CIO at the Commerce Department. In fact, the decision to bring in Reece and other top modernization officials from industry was unusual for the IRS, he said.

Hiring a CIO without a technical background is not uncommon either, because integrating the agency's mission and performance with its IT programs has, in many cases, become more important than the technology itself, Balutis said. And CFOs have communications and program management skills that are becoming requirements for CIOs.

"There has been a trend in recent years to fill CIO positions in the private sector from CFO or program manager positions because they know the business, they know the challenges," he said.

Grams started at the IRS in 2001 after working for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget.

At the IRS, Grams has been involved in efforts to modernize the IRS' financial systems, which is a key part of the overall business systems modernization program, Reece said. Grams also worked closely with the modernization team on funding and on the oversight by OMB and the General Accounting Office, Reece said.

"For a guy who really has no background in IT, he's really an excellent choice," Reece said.

Grams will have his work cut out for him. The business systems modernization program, which has been criticized for falling behind schedule, is at a key juncture, and many of the planned deliverables are due in the coming months.

Everson has repeatedly cited IT modernization efforts as one of his top priorities for improving the IRS and noted at his confirmation hearing in March that the success or failure of the upcoming milestones will have a big impact on the multibillion-dollar program.

Grams could not be reached for comment.

The decision to pick someone who understands the business and mission sides of the IRS — and is very conscious of cost, performance and schedule goals — makes perfect sense, according to Balutis.

Everson has also created a new position at the highest levels of the agency: deputy commissioner for operations support, a slot to be filled by John Dalrymple beginning June 1.

Dalrymple will supervise the CIO, the CFO, the chief human capital officer, agencywide shared services, and physical and cybersecurity operations. He will be held accountable for the modernization program and for increasing productivity across the agency by bringing responsibility for all of the functions back together for the first time in many years, Reece said.

"There's a new clarity of responsibility," he added.

Dalrymple currently serves as commissioner of the Wage and Investment Division at the IRS. He has been with the agency since 1975 and has also served as chief and deputy chief operations officer.


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