Management

Trump executive order boosts agency CIO role

The White House (Photo by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock) 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on May 15 aimed at empowering agency-level CIOs.

Much of the order aligns with the wish-list of items federal CIO Suzette Kent laid out for her agency counterparts: authority to hire, direct-report relationships to agency leadership, increasing collaboration across agencies and increasing the visibility of CIOs within their agencies.

The order directs agencies to make CIOs "voting members of bureau-level IT governance boards." It also directs the Office of Personnel Management to delegate to agency heads the authority to institute direct hiring of qualified IT candidates, provided that such hires are done on a four-year term basis and not transferred to non-IT positions.

On a May 15 press call about the order, a senior administration official speaking on background said inadequate CIO authorities and accountability across agencies continue to be “one of the glaring problems” facing IT modernization, adding that “it’s impossible to [change management] if you don’t have the resources or authorities to do that.”

Another senior administration official on the call said the executive order is "a foundational step in a multi-year journey" to revamp IT throughout the federal government by fully implementing IT reform legislation, including the Clinger-Cohen Act and the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

"President Trump is drawing on the best practices from the private sector and empowering CIOs to lead the technology transformation at their agencies. This executive order is a critical foundation to delivering a more efficient, effective and accountable government," Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and director of the American Innovation Office, said in an email circulated by the White House press office following the call.

"This executive order is a critical foundation to delivering a more efficient, effective and accountable government," Kushner said.

Another senior administration official on the call emphasized the interagency collaboration the order promotes, and said it will prioritize the use of shared services, specifically in email and cloud services, and across government.

A fourth senior administration official touted the plan for "reporting out each quarter" on the progress agencies are making in carrying out the executive order.

Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of public sector at the Information Technology Industry Council said the order "puts CIOs in a position to effectively drive this IT modernization across the federal government and fully implement" Clinger-Cohen and FITARA.

FITARA co-sponsor Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) praised the administration for implementing the enhanced CIO authorities called for FITARA but wants to see them applied to the Pentagon as well. The Department of Defense is exempted from the executive order.

"It is disappointing that the Department of Defense is not covered under this Executive Order as it is the one agency that consistently receives a failing grade on the FITARA scorecard," Connolly said.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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