2020 Federal 100: Government Eagle Award Winner

Suzette Kent: The CIOs' CIO

Federal CIO Suzette Kent 

When Suzette Kent was named federal CIO in early 2018, most in the community had never heard of her. Today, many say it’s hard to imagine the last two years without her.

In 2019, she led or lent essential support to a long list of initiatives. The Federal Data Strategy was developed and launched with an aggressive action plan, and Kent took the lead on creating the new Chief Data Officer Council. A long-awaited update to the Trusted Internet Connections policy was finalized, while the Federal Identity, Credential and Access Management policy was similarly updated.

Kent also continued to champion the President’s Management Agenda, ensuring that the government’s many IT initiatives fit into that broader framework. She put a special emphasis on IT and acquisition workforce development. While initiatives like the Cyber Reskilling Academy — which graduated its first two cohorts in 2019 — have not yet filled a significant number of jobs, they reflect important steps to address a critical governmentwide need.

The  Federal 100

Click here for a profile of this year's Industry Eagle Award winner.

Profiles of all the 2020 Federal 100 winners will be published in the coming days.

The 2020 Fed 100 gala has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

Technology business management — a set of methodologies and data standards to measure IT costs and create a cross-agency framework for understanding IT spending — was another important 2019 effort, albeit one that existed mostly behind the scenes.

“Transparency of spend in federal government is a constant priority,” Kent said at an event in January. “There wasn’t a one-size-fits-all, everybody-do-this” TBM blueprint in 2019 but rather “a specific set of work around defining the standards and creating a standards board.”

“We are absolutely implementing the framework,” she added, “but giving agencies and teams the flexibility to choose the tools that match with what they are attempting to achieve.”

In many ways, Kent’s tenure as federal CIO is defined by that dogged devotion to standards and deliverables combined with a commitment to giving agencies the freedom to tailor efforts in mission-appropriate ways. And that approach has earned the admiration of IT leaders at those agencies.

Although Kent demurred when informed she was this year’s Government Eagle — “I can think of 500 people who deserve it more,” she told FCW — her colleagues clearly disagree. Her nominators included the CIOs from seven of the largest and most forward-leaning agencies across government.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is the Editor-in-Chief of both FCW and GCN, two of the oldest and most influential publications in public-sector IT. Both publications (originally known as Federal Computer Week and Government Computer News, respectively) are owned by GovExec. Mr. Schneider also serves GovExec's General Manager for Government Technology Brands.

Mr. Schneider previously served as New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company, where he oversaw the online operations of The Atlantic Monthly, National Journal, The Hotline and The Almanac of American Politics, among other publications. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Mr. Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Mr. Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.


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