Top 10 Ask the CIO interviews of 2019

DISA, cybersecurity and non-CIOs talking tech seemed to draw the interest of Federal News Network listeners and readers in 2019 on the Ask the CIO show.

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Ask the CIO is the longest running show on Federal News Network. I’ve been the host for almost 12 years. Every interview I do, and every panel I moderate, are always filled with interesting news and tidbits that show the progress of federal IT.

CIOs have some of the most difficult but exciting jobs across government. As we’ve heard many times, technology is the glue that holds the mission and business programs together.

This is the second year in a row we are highlighting the most popular Ask the CIO interviews in order of popularity online. The 2018 top 10 interviews had an expected mix of IT modernization and cybersecurity.

1. NSA dares students to break the cyber code, and then recruits them

Every story and interview on the National Security Agency does well in the federal community, but it’s a bit surprising that this interview came in on top. As every agency and private sector organization becomes more desperate for the cybersecurity expertise, NSA’s innovative approach may have gotten others thinking about how they can meet today and future needs.

2. Six ways the CIO is supporting the Army’s new AI task force

In 2019, artificial intelligence is one of those phrases that could receive the award for the buzziest of buzzwords. This may have been why this interview with Army CIO/G6 Gen. Bruce Crawford was so popular. But it may also have been because the Army is aggressively pushing to use AI and other emerging technologies.

3.  For HUD’s CFO, IT modernization is all about the data

A first on Ask the CIO, a chief financial officer. Irv Dennis, the CFO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is knee deep into the agency’s IT modernization efforts under the Centers of Excellence. It just made sense to have him on. Interestingly enough, one of the top 10 from 2018 also featured HUD and IT modernization.

4.  DISA wants to keep cyber attackers locked in web browser

This is the first of two interviews with the Defense Information Systems Agency to make the list. DISA’s Steve Wallace, a systems innovation scientist in the Emerging Technology Directorate, is one of those people in government that attracts a lot of interest because he’s pushing the envelope. This interview was no different as cyber remains at the top of many vendors and agencies to-do lists.

5. USPTO’s 19 projects to stabilize, modernize IT systems

It’s no surprise that this interview with Jamie Holcombe, the new CIO at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, made the top 10 list. PTO has a huge IT budget, Holocombe was relatively new when I interviewed him and IT modernization is an attractive topic.

6.  Sandia’s synthetic network offers new insight into how cyber attackers work

One of my favorite interviews of the year because the Energy Department lab took the concept of a honey pot and made it dynamic. It’s one of those projects where the government is out in front of industry in figuring out how to stop cyber attackers and, for once, is getting much deserved credit. A practice—no matter the topic—other agencies should made a New Year’s resolution to be better at in 2020.

7. For the FBI, data is both a blessing and a curse

If were playing buzzword bingo, data would be another spot on the chart. But this story hits home for a lot of people because the FBI opened up about how they are tackling their big data challenge with a new chief data officer and a new strategy. Now Gordon Bitko has since left the FBI, but that doesn’t stop the bureau’s efforts.

8. GSA’s acquisition systems modernization effort buoyed by new contract writing system

This was another one of those cross-over stories where I brought on non-CIOs to talk about technology. In this case, the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service discussed the status of major technology upgrades, most of which will come to fruition in 2020.

9. DISA teaming up with US Cyber Command on a zero trust lab

DISA’s second story on the top 10 countdown is about another cybersecurity breakthrough. Zero trust—another spot on the buzzword bingo chart—was one of those topics every agency and every vendors wanted more information about. So the fact DISA was beginning to pilot this concept, garnered a lot of attention.

10. HHS new contract writing system testing more than an innovative technology approach

Before Jose Arrieta was the CIO at the Department of Health and Human Services, he helped run the agency’s acquisition shop. It was in that role where his discussion of blockchain or distributed ledger technology caught the attention of our readers. Arrieta has gained a reputation for taking smart risks and an example of an agency trying out this emerging technology sparked a lot of interest.

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