IT success on a shoestring: 5 tips

A federal CIO has formulated these strategies to drive IT management in a time of fiscal restraint

Agencies are trying to run IT operations on diminishing budgets. Environmental Protection Agency CIO Malcolm Jackson has set five strategies that have proven to be effective.

  • Run the IT organization like a business. “We’re going to apply basic, sound business management to the way we operate information technology in federal government,” Jackson said.  “We want to ensure that IT is aligned with our agency’s goals.” As a result, the IT team has to make smart decisions about government business and especially about IT to avoid being bogged down by things that have hampered the organization in the past.
  • Focus on high-quality service. IT needs to deliver services in the time agreed on with agency users and deliver products that work right the first time. “To do this, we’ll engage in our governance process and move toward greater standardization,” Jackson said.
  • Strengthen partnerships. Focus on working with other agency programs; business partners; industry; and state, local and tribal governments. The EPA Central Data Exchange, which enables efficient, accurate environmental data, is an example of successful cooperation, he said. “Our technology enabled private industry to automate reporting on renewable fuel transactions, significantly lowering reporting costs,” Jackson said. The Moderated Transaction System, a part of CDX, was launched in July 2010.
  • Invest in talent management. “Our people are the greatest asset to the agency,” Jackson said. Jackson’s team has launched a talent management strategy to help employees in their personal and career development. The organization is helping minority academic institutions build pipelines to attract new people to government. Jackson’s office has also partnered with other agency offices to create voluntary mentoring programs so employees can receive advice on personal growth and career development from seasoned professionals.
  • Set a strategic direction for IT.  “We want to make sure all new developments follow all IT standards and programs, when feasible, using central services already in place rather than building something new.” That is a new approach for EPA, he said.
  • About the Author

    Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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