IT Management

Every sheriff needs a deputy

As the CIO often strategizes for the future, the deputy CIO gets agency operations done today. The arrangement is the foundation for a well-run organization, experts say.

The pair runs in tandem, balancing the now and the future, for a successful agency. The CIO develops strategies and plans for building a powerful and well-rounded agency IT infrastructure and important systems. The deputy is focused internally to make sure employees are doing the day-to-day work.

“I see the deputy much more implementing and helping making sure things are on track,” said Chase Garwood, current deputy CIO at the Small Business Administration.

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Assessing the state of the CIO

With the deputy’s support, the CIO can work on strategic, long-term outreach and partnerships with other agencies. The CIO can also build relationships in the community, such as with other CIOs, IT experts, and federal contractors, said Karen Evans, former administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

The deputies “are critical, critical to the stability of an organization, especially if you have an operational aspect to the job,” said Evans, now partner at KE&T Partners.

It isn’t all the here and now for the deputy though. Experts say the deputy plays a significant role in strategic planning too. While having separate and defined jobs, the CIO and the deputy need to cooperate on planning efforts. The long-time deputy often has first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of the agency from past experience. CIOs can benefit from a broad range of perspectives on the agency’s vision and mission, said Christopher Smith, former CIO at the Agriculture Department and now federal chief technology innovation officer at Accenture.

“They obviously want to be very collaborative in terms of generating the best ideas,” he said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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