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Agencies share tips for better governance

Agencies have been improving their governance processes by ensuring that the relevant people at the agency are involved and learning to balance control with agility, according to members of a panel at the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council's Management of Change Conference in Hot Springs, Va.

But the balancing act is not always easy, and progress sometimes comes slowly, the panelists added.

On the question of balancing innovation and agility with the kind of management and control good governance requires, the panelists expressed a desire to maintain both components.

"We shouldn't get ourselves where we have to choose either/or," said Joelle Hull, senior manager of the program governance office at the Internal Revenue Service.

Meanwhile, agencies are still trying to grasp the nuances of measuring risk, another component of good governance, she added. "I think we have a lot of the raw materials to do that kind of analysis, but we haven't quite figured out how to put the dots between them," she said.

Audience members asked how cloud computing fits in, given that such services move most of the technology off-site and put it under an outside provider's management. One audience member said a manager will sometimes choose to use a cloud solution and keep it secret from the CIO out of fear of disapproval.

When a manager chooses to use a cloud solution, Hull said, "all I care about is that they've registered it with me." That disclosure is important for transparency and technical support, she said. If the cloud solution is a known part of the IT environment, it can be accounted for.

"What a lot of people don't understand is that many of the restrictions put on agencies [regarding the use of cloud services] are not adopted by choice," said Giovanni Carnaroli, associate CIO at the Transportation Department. "There are a lot of impediments," such as licensing agreements an agency has signed, that forbid the use of cloud services.

Governance tends to run more smoothly when managers involve stakeholders from other parts of the organization, the panelists said. For IT, that could mean including an agency's chief financial officer and other budget officials.

"The single most important piece of bridge building I did was to get the CFO's office involved," Carnaroli said.

Posted by Michael Hardy on May 16, 2011 at 12:11 PM


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