CIO Council to clear up support

The CIO Council may clarify which organizations can claim its support, said Karen Evans, Office of Management and Budget administrator of e-government and information technology.

"What I think you're going to see is better rules of the road because of what's happened in this particular environment," she said. Evans is also the council director.

The council recently withdrew its participation from the Chief Information Security Officer Exchange, a for-profit initiative spearheaded by Steve O'Keeffe, principal of marketing firm O'Keeffe and Company. O'Keeffe ended his efforts to promote the CISO Exchange April 14, shortly after OMB issued statement that the council "is formally withdrawing its membership" from the Exchange.

The council never sponsored or endorsed the Exchange, said Dan Matthews, the council's vice chairman. "From time to time people have said that the CIO Council endorses [them] and generally we'll call them up and say, 'Such is not the case, don't say that,' " Matthews said.

O'Keeffe said he cleared a CISO Exchange press release with council. He had no comment on whether he considered the council a sponsor or not.

The participation of Vance Hitch, Justice Department chief information officer, in the CISO Exchange did create an impression the council sponsored the initiative, Evans said.

"There is an implication of CIO Council sponsorship because he's our official liaison for cybersecurity," she said.

Hitch had made a presentation to the council executive committee about the need for an exchange of best cybersecurity practices between the private and public sectors, Matthews said. "We supported the concept, and we still support that concept of having an interchange with industry," he said. Hitch's presentation made no reference to O'Keeffe, he added.

"Then the Web site went up saying it was going to collect this kind of money and that’s when we said 'That's interesting, tell me more,' " he said. Participants cut ties to the exchange when government and industry officials said that the organization appeared to sell access to policy-makers. A select number of companies were to pay $75,000 for full memberships, while others could have paid $5,000 or $25,000 for restricted memberships.

Endorsement carries further weight. "When they tell me they endorse it, they're in essence putting their reputation behind it," Matthews said. The council is not in the endorsement business, he added.

It does support other non-governmental organizations. "When we support an endeavor, we like the concept -- that's all," he said.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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