FCW Insider

Blog archive

FCW editorial: Setting priorities

In this week's editorial, we sought to incorporate some of the elements of cover story this week, which looks at the best agencies for federal IT workers, as well as some of what we have seen in Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff's reorganization. Comments are always welcome either here on the blog, or e-mail at letters@fcw.com or to me specifically at cdorobek@fcw.com.

FCW editorial: Setting Priorities
You get what you measure, experts say. And we're told that budgets and organizational charts indicate priorities. So we wondered what the Homeland Security Department's organizational chart said about its priorities when it showed that the agency's chief information officer does not report to the head of the agency.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's Second Stage Review culminated last week in a six-point plan for reorganizing the department. The plan calls for some important changes, including the creation of an assistant secretary of cybersecurity and telecommunications. But we had hoped that the reorganization would address the CIO and chief financial officer problem. Currently, the CIO and CFO report to the agency's deputy director for management rather than to the secretary.

It would be better if this was true only at DHS, but that agency is not alone. There are still many agencies in which the CIO does not report to the top executive, despite the fact that the Clinger-Cohen Act requires it.

Some agencies do not have a CIO. The Defense Department, for example, has been without one for 16 months.

We are not criticizing the people who have been doing the work; we are criticizing agencies' priorities. Perhaps those priorities reveal something about the real value attached to information sharing and financial management.

Nicholas Carr's recent book "Does IT Matter?" could easily have been titled "Do CIOs Matter?"

Information technology executives must ensure that their work is tied to agencies' missions and that their organizations are a critical part of their agencies. But that priority-setting effort must come from the top of the agency. And it will be almost impossible to share information effectively without fully empowered CIOs.

Changing reporting structures and organizational charts does not fix the underlying problem — but it is an important step.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 24, 2005 at 12:14 PM


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.