She's looked at tech from both sides now
- By Sara Michael
- Jul 19, 2004
Marguerite Moccia has a different perspective on the value of linking technology know-how with sound business planning.
She was recently named chief financial officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She is well-versed in the business of ATF, having served as deputy CFO three years ago.
In between the two finance jobs, though, she received a different education as the bureau's chief information officer, in which she was able to link the two sides of the organization — the offices of the CFO and the CIO.
"I do see a change in the way we're viewing technology," Moccia said. "We're viewing it more as a business."
Her experience developing capital investment plans served her well in the
information technology shop. Crafting business cases was normal in the financial sector, she said, and that focus now applies to IT management.
"I realized the importance the infrastructure brings to the organization and how you can leverage it to support the mission," Moccia said. "I can bridge the two."
Her goal as CIO was to continue building that bridge between business and technology, and that's a mission she plans to continue as CFO. Technology managers must understand the need for integrated business approaches, and the bureau's executives must understand how technology benefits the mission, she said, adding that this connection requires communication.
"I focused on engaging our executives at ATF in the technology process," Moccia said. "It's a religion. I think everyone understands the need. They don't want to lose their projects, but we need a more global view."
Moccia became CIO in 2001, filling the post left by Pat Schambach, who became CIO of the Transportation Security Administration. At the time, ATF officials had recently awarded a second seat management contract, becoming one of the first agencies to outsource the management of their desktop computing environment. The infrastructure was in good shape, Moccia said, and bureau officials had begun integrating the databases.
"We just needed to take it to the next level," she said.
Moccia, who also served as assistant director for science and technology, was responsible for the bureau's third seat management contract, awarded in January. It shifted acquisition to a performance-based, managed services contract.
This approach focuses on meeting business or operational goals rather than only achieving technical goals.
A step to that next level was bridging the gap between executives and technologists, a task that she said has proven to be one of her greatest challenges. Technologists need to be able to speak in business terms, Moccia said, to best relay the need for certain systems.
"We've got some very brilliant technology professionals, but taking what they do and translating it to the world of business is what we need to do," she said. "It's a resorting of your thinking process, so you are thinking about the outcome, not the technology."
To ease this connection, Moccia worked to establish integrated program teams, partnering IT staff with business owners and vendors on specific programs. Collaboration among the three groups allows for accountability and ownership, making programs less likely to fail, she said.
In her new position as CFO and assistant director for management, Moccia plans to continue that relationship, particularly between the CIO and CFO. With experience in both fields, she understands the need for the two sides to work closely and equally. She said she will advance IT portfolio management and enterprise architecture while focusing on acquisitions, asset management, personnel and finance.
Bill Earle, ATF's former CFO who retired from the position this month, said Moccia has a strong understanding of the need for accountability, business cases and program outcomes.
"She has a very orderly and disciplined mind, the kind of mind you would expect to find in the financial world," said Earle, who has known Moccia for about a dozen years. "She has basically had it in her DNA since I have been associated with her."
The relationship between CIOs and CFOs is typically strained, Earle said.
But Moccia "has made the relationship much more enjoyable and realistic because she knows there is not an endless flow of dollars, and we have to make a great case why we are implementing programs," he said.
The Marguerite Moccia file
Title: Chief financial officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Family: Moccia has a 19-year-old son, who attends James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.
Hobbies: She is a member of a book club for which she recently read "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown; next on the list is Yann Martel's "Life of Pi."
Education: She graduated in 1973 from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she majored in psychology and minored in history. After college, she moved back to Philadelphia, where she taught emotionally disturbed young people.
Work history: She started her almost 30 years of government service at the Defense Department and has also worked at the Treasury Department. At
ATF, she served as deputy CFO for several years and chief information officer for three years before becoming CFO.