Awaiting IT reform details, CIO launches online dialogue as first step

Blog is intended to help define the role of the CIO

The Obama administration said last December that it would strive to redefine the role of agency CIOs as part of its 25-point IT management reform plan. While there has been little detail so far about how exactly the administration intends to achieve this goal, it appears that some CIOs are moving ahead.

To begin the process of strengthening CIOs, there are many questions that have to be answered. Jerry Williams, CIO of the Housing and Urban Development Department, noted some of those questions in a new blog series he has started to share his “reflections and create a dialogue on how the role of the CIO must adapt to meet the information management challenges that face us as we move deeper into the 2nd decade of the millennium.”

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In his first blog entry on Feb. 14, Williams explained how the landscape for information management strategy and implementation has changed dramatically in the two decades that the federal CIO position has existed.

“The Internet did not even exist when intensive data-process processing and data-sharing demands spurred the creation of the position of CIO,” Williams wrote. “Monolithic, proprietary systems housed the vast majority of information, which was shared via limited reporting capabilities with select individuals on a need-to-know basis.”

Williams goes on to list a series of important questions to consider in this new environment, especially since the administration is looking to elevate CIOs government-wide. Some of the questions he poses include: How have the requirements for CIOs evolved? What is the right vision for the future? How should this vision transfer to the daily cadence of activities a CIO performs?

Williams may be the latest CIO to take visible strides toward meeting the plan's goals, but he's not the first. Interior Department officials announced in late 2010 that the agency will align all of its IT resources under its CIO.

“The role of the CIO is changing to be very closely integrated into the other business process of the organization,” Interior CIO Bernard Mazer said in a January interview. “I have insight into all of our IT investments, and can intermediate multiple layers within a business process.”

The White House indicated in its reform plan that its CIO initiative would be led by the federal CIO and agency CIOs. It also set a goal of making progress on this initiative within six months.


About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.


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