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Giving the DHS CIO the money power

DHS hasn't posted Secretary Chertoff's speech yesterday before the Northern Virginia Technology Council, but the department did e-mail it.

Here is the relevent portion about giving DHS's CIO the power of IT money agencywide:

To coordinate all of this work and ensure prudent annual investment of over $3 billion in IT, we need to have a strong information officer who is empowered to make decisions, control spending and ensure consistency. Accordingly, I'm issuing later today a management directive that will enhance and elevate the authority of our department's Chief Information Officer, Scott Charbo. By doing this, DHS will be at the forefront of fulfilling the promise of the Klinger-Cohen Act of 1996, which established the role of the CIO in major federal agencies.

Under this new mandate, which I will issue today, each DHS component will be required to submit its IT budget to the CIO, who will make recommendations to me for final inclusion in the department's budget request.

Second, any IT acquisition larger than $2.5 million will have to first be approved by the department's Enterprise Architecture Board as being aligned with the department's enterprise architecture, and then submitted to the CIO for approval.

Third, the DHS CIO will approve the hiring of component CIOs and set and approve their performance plans, ratings and annual award compensation.

To implement these new authorities, we will be strengthening the department's investment review process and more tightly integrating it with our budget acquisition and procurement business functions.

In a department of our size and complexity, and particularly in a department built from a lot of legacy agencies, this unification and strengthening of core management will not be easy. Some of the components will not be used to this level of centralized coordination, particularly as it relates to IT systems. But I'm convinced after two years, as is my leadership team, that we must make this happen, because it is necessary to get to the next level of effective and cost-effective management of our IT resources to fulfill our mission of protecting the American people and our homeland.

Let me conclude by saying -- and I know that's always a welcome phrase -- that we cannot provide a solution to every problem or challenge we face through technology. But I will say technology is at least part of the solution for almost every problem.

So... thoughts? Last night, I asked for your take on this and I have received several good responses. Will this make a difference? If so, why? If not, why not?

Only two agenices -- DHS and VA -- now have this power ... the VA by law, DHS by the above announcement. And there was some discussion about the VA down at IPIC last week. It is interesting that two of the government's arguably most troubled agencies have this authority, so I'm not sure either is a particularly good test for whether this is a model that works.

Your thoughts? Comment here for others to share in your insights... or e-mail me.

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


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