Letter: Past GAO advice on CMOs is flawed

Regarding "Breul: CMO idea could stick around"

By suggesting that the Government Accountability Office's chief management officer (CMO) idea represents a "possible solution" to the government's management problems, Jonathan Breul is ignoring the fact that past GAO advice in this area has proven to be flawed.

The CFO Act of 1990 and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, respectively, created "chief financial officers" and "chief information officers" across the government. Both laws were passed by the Congress largely, if not entirely, in response to GAO arguments at the time that the creation of such positions would "elevate attention paid to management issues, integrate various transformational efforts, and institutionalize accountability," as Mr. Breul puts it, in an impressive imitation of GAO-speak. The problem is that we now have more than 10 years of history showing that the CFO and CIO ideas don't work. (If they did, we why do we now need to create CMOs?)

Perhaps the problem lies not so much in the need to put senior executives in charge as it does in giving them the freedom they need to find their own solutions. Following the GAO's longstanding advice, the CFO and Clinger-Cohen laws call for the production of external financial statements and the development of "enterprise architectures" as the keys to successful reform. But, once again, we now have more than 10 years of experience showing that neither of those approaches, despite their rhetorical appeal, will ever produce any real effectiveness or efficiency results of value. (Again, if they did, why do we now need CMOs?

If the hands of the new CMOs coming into the government continue to be tied by the reform approaches demanded by the CFO and Clinger-Cohen acts, those new CMOs will fail for the same reasons their CFO and CIO brethren have failed: because of what has proven to be very bad management advice from the GAO.

Christopher Hanks

What do you think? Paste a comment in the box below (registration required), or send your comment to letters@fcw.com (subject line: Blog comment) and we'll post it.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.