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More business, less policy

LinkedIn profile image: Richard Young, CIO for USDA's Foreign Agricultural Services.

In the few weeks Richard Young has been CIO of the Foreign Agricultural Service, he said he's become more focused on the business impact of IT and less on IT policy debates, or deploying the latest cutting edge technology, major preoccupations in his former post as director of IT policy and compliance at the Department of Homeland Security.

In remarks at a Feb. 19 Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) panel on "New Voices in Federal IT," Young said at FAS "it's all about sharing resources." Providing IT services to FAS, which operates 94 offices in 73 countries around the world, is more like providing IT to a small business than a giant corporation, said Young. FAS has about 15,000 employees; DHS has about 240,000.

"You have to understand the business side of IT. You have to talk in business terms, not in IT terms," he said. While the same may be true at DHS, Young said the day-to-day impact of IT on a smaller agency can be more immediate.

Shared services is a prime example of how smaller agency IT shops can focus on the task at hand. "Who needs another travel system?" he asked.

Young said that since moving from DHS into his CIO role at FAS, he has made a point to meet personally with FAS IT staff and get to know their issues, and vice versa. That kind of personal interaction wasn't possible at the relatively vast DHS IT operations. He said in the first few days of working at FAS, he shook hands with most of FAS IT employees. "At DHS, you didn't shake hands with the CIO at the door."

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Feb 20, 2015 at 8:09 AM


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