Federal News Network’s Ask the CIO: SLED Edition debuts

Government chief information officers at all levels — federal, state and local —have come a long way since the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, and similar legislation and sometimes less formal initiatives at the state and local level. Early adoptions in the federal government were often hampered by “work arounds,” ostensibly clever appointments of existing agency executives often the CFO or similar administrative person, incurring the attention (and wrath) of Government Accountability Office’s initial evaluations of Clinger-Cohen implementation.  These concerns have been reported many times over the years since implementation by Federal News Network Executive Editor Jason Miller, and continuing even this summer with lingering questions about the CIO’s role and authority as reported by Federal News Network Reporter Jory Heckman last August.

At the state level, the CIO governance model did not begin with smooth sailing either due to governors’ indifference, technology phobia or simple misunderstanding. A good example of the last involves a discussion I had with incoming Gov. Bill Weld (L-Mass.) during his transition when I was being considered for his cabinet in 1993. After learning that I would not be appointed his new Secretary of Labor (a story for another day), I was asked what other position I might be interested in. With little hesitation I said I wanted to be the state CIO. Later, I heard back from one of the attendees at the earlier meeting. He said that nobody could find the AFL-CIO position I was referring to. Alas …

Since those early days when I did become Massachusetts CIO in 1994, arguably the first one in the country, state and local governments and higher ed have made significant progress. By 1999, with my strong endorsement, even the state government IT association had changed its name from National Association of State Information Resource Executives to National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO).

However, just like our federal counterparts, state CIO positions run the gamut from large, strong CIO governance models responsible for all aspects of IT policy, operations and budget authority, to skeleton agency CIOs with the title, immense responsibility, but a dearth of staff, budget and other resources; with most falling somewhere in between.

Advertisement

The challenges for all government CIOs remain considerable.

It is with these continuing challenges in mind that Federal News Network, the premier source of breaking news, information and analysis for individuals responsible for carrying out and supporting the missions of federal agencies, will now bring similar focus to state and local governments.

Ask the CIO: SLED Edition will be a half-hour radio program, which will serve as a connection between federal, state and local IT, and will debut on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 11 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington D.C. area and on FederalNewsNetwork.com everywhere.

Ask the CIO: SLED Edition will feature interviews, news and commentary with particular attention to the state and local government IT markets’ $117 billion in spending, which exceeds the federal IT market by some $30 billion. The program will include discussions with state and local CIOs, chief information security officers, program leadership and elected officials, plus the IT vendor community.

Throughout our discussion, we will endeavor to highlight the aspects of CIO governance unique to state and local as opposed to federal sectors while at the same time examining the areas with common challenges and perhaps mutually beneficial solutions in governance, procurement, data analytics, open source, cloud implementation, recruitment and much more yet to be determined.

Additionally, at this point, there have been a number of state and local IT folks that have made the trip to the shores of the Potomac to assume federal CIO positions, while at least one fed has made the voyage in the opposite direction. That should provide an interesting perspective to examine and we shall. After 9/11, I had an opportunity to visit the White House and had several interviews for federal CIO positions. I think you will enjoy the story …

Our policy at Ask the CIO: SLED Edition is simple. Government can always do better across the public sector boundaries. We want to keep your interest and have a little fun as well.  So let’s begin our journey, on the government, technology, politics and, as I like to say, other unnatural acts.