Circuit

Blog archive

CIOs talk. Does anyone listen?

In a spy movie, an interrogator might say "We have ways of making you talk."

Teri Takai, the Defense Department’s CIO, told a House subcommittee that she's got her ways to make people listen.

The CIO doesn't hold any DOD purse strings. The military branches spend their IT money any way they like, and honestly, no one really has to listen to her opinion. But Takai said the CIO gets into the purse in other ways. “There are any number of processes" in DOD that review spending, and her office does have a role in that, she said.

However, the lack of clout must stand out clearly—even to those outside the federal IT community.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, said it best to Takai during the April 6 hearing:

“The first question that leaps out to me is, do you have the authority to do your job,” Thornberry said bluntly. "You're there to strategize and guide, but they don’t have to listen to you,” he said, referring to the other services’ decision-makers.

It’s a sticking point for CIOs across government. Is the CIO seen as an advisor with a deep grasp of technology and how agencies can use it to solve problems and carry out their missions? Or as a technology junkie who has a higher status in the agency pecking order only because of a law (the Clinger-Cohen Act) from the 1990s?

Takai smiled back at Thornberry though, as if to subtly tell the chairman his assertion is right. Yet, she began to describe the CIO’s policy influence, her program reviews, and her role in the Pentagon’s procurement and investment decisions.

“We do have opportunity certainly to weigh in,” she said.

Nevertheless, Thornberry comes back to his main point with his second question to Takai.

“How often is your organization’s judgment overridden?” he asked.

She said she didn't know, but smiled the subtle smile again.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group