Cybersecurity effort should go back to the future

Tony Scott  (Photo: VMware)

U.S. CIO Tony Scott said federal cybersecurity leaders could learn from Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch.

Two former leaders of big U.S. manufacturers can inform today's federal cybersecurity efforts by demonstrating how to move from finger pointing to implementing programs that showcase best practices, according to the federal government's top IT manager.

U.S. CIO Tony Scott invoked the spirits of former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch when he called for more inspiration in federal cybersecurity rather than trying to assign blame. Scott made the remarks during the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Exploring the Dimensions of Trustworthiness event on Aug. 31.

The current conversation about federal cybersecurity "reminds me of the dialogue we were having in the '80s and '90s in the automotive industry" when the quality of U.S. cars was at a low point, said Scott, who was CTO of information systems at General Motors from 1999 to 2005. "It was a world of 'you're bad, you're bad, and you're bad' finger pointing kind of thing."

"It's hard to get out of that circling-the-drain motion," he added. But General Electric and Chrysler broke out of that cycle by implementing programs to boost best practices and push quality ahead of blame, Scott said.

Federal leaders are similarly trying to refocus the discussion about federal cybersecurity efforts. "We need to change the dialogue from 'Don't be a Sony,' to something positive, like 'Here are the things that you can do, here are some great practices you can do in your own organization, here's the conversation you should be having with the board and your audit committee or engineering teams,'" he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • Cybersecurity
    CISA chief Chris Krebs disusses the future of the agency at Auburn University Aug. 22 2019

    Shared services and the future of CISA

    Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS, said that many federal agencies will be outsourcing cyber to a shared service provider in the future.

  • Telecom
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA softens line on looming EIS due date

    Think of the September deadline for agencies to award contracts under the General Services Administration's $50-billion telecommunications contract as a "yellow light," said GSA's telecom services director.

  • Defense
    Shutterstock photo id 669226093 By Gorodenkoff

    IC looks to stand up a new enterprise IT program office

    The intelligence community wants to stand up a new program executive office to help develop new IT capabilities.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.