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CIO and the power of the purse

We got word yesterday that DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff was going to make news at the Northern Virginia Technology Council breakfast this morning, and that he did.

"Later today, I am issuing a management directive to enhance the authority of CIO Scott Charbo," Chertoff said in a speech this morning.

This was something of the discussion at IPIC earlier this month. As we note in Circuit in the 3.19 issue, only two CIOs have the power of the purse: Bob Howard, the VA CIO, and now DHS CIO Scott Charbo.

The VA is being carefully watched, of course.

Bob Woods, president of Topside Consulting and a former VA IT official, speaking at IPIC, said, "VA will be judged pretty harshly if this model doesn't work, and they're going to have to work pretty hard at it."

But there is still something of a debate about where the bucks should stop. "We're going to see it play out in real life," said Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget's administrator for e-government and IT.

"When I was a CIO, I felt… there were certain corporate services that need to be owned by the CIO," she said, "but the applications should be owned by the program areas."

Pat Schambach, former CIO at the Transportation Security Administration and now the a senior vice president at Nortel, said that he created a governance framework so there was a process, but the applications were best left in the hands of the officials responsible for the task. "They know what [these systems] mean for them operationally," he said.

Woods argued that a CIO can get much more done with the power of the purse.

"You can get more done with a kind word and a gun then just a kind word," he said.

(Woods was a quote machine during that session.)

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Mar 15, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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