The 10 CIO interviews that were most popular in 2018

HUD, USDA CIOs talking IT modernization and cybersecurity among the most listened and read Ask the CIO interviews last year.

Ask the CIO is the longest running show on Federal News Network. I’ve been the host for almost 11 years and 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 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 first time we are highlighting the most popular Ask the CIO interviews.

1.  HUD, USDA bolstered from first payments from Technology Modernization Fund

Interviews with Department of Housing and Urban Development CIO David Chow and Agriculture Department CIO Gary Washington offered some of the first updates to both the Centers of Excellence and TMF initiatives. HUD and USDA are the “lighthouse” agencies to test out the concepts of these initiatives to modernize federal IT.

2.  IG community takes next step to close the FISMA gap between auditors, CIOs

This interview with Tammy Whitcomb, the Postal Service’s acting IG and chairperson of the IT subcommittee of the Council on IG Integrity and Efficiency, highlighted how the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Homeland Security and the IGs are overcoming long-standing challenges to measuring cyber progress. The 2018 reports on agency implementation of Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) metrics will be the first to reconcile the checklist versus an approach to measure how agencies are closing cyber gaps.

3. Thirst for new technologies, new capabilities driving IC’s cloud expansion

John Sherman, the CIO of the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, clarified that the IC is not, and was never going to be, dependent on a single cloud provider. The interview came as the concerns about the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI) were rising.

4. Lack of cyber workers is the forcing function for shared services

This show came from a panel I moderated with the current Federal Chief Information Security Officer Grant Schneider and former White House cyber coordinator Michael Daniel. The discussion, like many do, turned to how agencies can address the ever-growing cyber risks while competing for workers with the private sector. OMB and DHS are expected to begin setting up and testing cyber shared services in 2019.

5. Before replacing the CAC, DoD to evolve current smart identity card

The Defense Department started talking about moving away from the common access card back in 2016, but before that can happen, there are other issues they must address. The Defense Information Systems Agency is conducting a series of pilots to test alternative approaches to CAC.

6. Emerging threat to warfighters required new thinking by DoD’s JIDO

This interview focused on two of the hottest topics of 2018—faster acquisition and quicker IT development. What stood out to me from the interview is how the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization reduced its spending on legacy systems to about 10 percent from as much as 41 percent two years ago. While JIDO isn’t a huge agency, there are definite lessons other agencies can take from it.

7. US Digital Service helps CMS with ‘novel’ approach to IT modernization

The U.S. Digital Service turned its reputation around over the last year, in part because of how it got the word out about its successes. This was one of five interviews I did with USDS and its partner agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Small Business Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs demonstrating the ongoing and successful digital transformation of the government.

8. NCI develops a model for the future of scientific computing

The National Cancer Institute and its partner organizations across the National Institutes of Health are taking full advantage of cloud computing and other emerging technologies to make research easier and better. The NCI is getting out of the infrastructure business as well as using the cloud for data analytics needs. This show came from a panel I moderated at the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT day. The 2019 event is coming in Jan. 30 where I’ll be moderating another panel.

9. TSA isn’t sweating the new Windows 10 mandate from DHS

The timing of this interview couldn’t have been better. I had just heard that DHS CIO John Zangardi issued a memo in early 2018 mandating the agency move to Microsoft Windows 10. Russell Roberts told me not only was TSA ahead of the game in moving to the new operating system, but planned several other initiatives around Win10.

10. Revealing the value of IT investments will help form the path to the cloud

During the course of the year, several shows are “exit” interviews with federal IT executives who retire or move to the private sector. The fact that this one made the list is a bit surprising given it’s an exit interview. But former General Services Administration deputy CIO Steve Grewal, who joined Cohesity, hit upon a hot topic of Technology Business Modernization (TBM) standards.

Read more of the Reporter’s Notebook

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