In this two-part discussion, Tony Scott, former Federal CIO & managing partner at Ridge Lane Limited Partners, and Learning Tree International CEO and former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires discuss a new report indicating challenges with keeping Agency CIOs in the loop, and the most important traits CIOs should have.
According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, the role of the chief information officer is not given importance in agencies. GAO says that all 24 cabinet-level agencies need to improve how they share information and communicate with their CIOs. The report recommends that each agency make at least one change to their policies, and improve implementation of CIO responsibilities. Learning Tree International CEO and former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires says that the issues should be easily fixable, provided the leadership is interested. “The authorities are there, it’s really an issue of leadership at the top of an agency. I worked in two different agencies in government. I was at IRS and DHS, and I had wildly different experiences at the two based on the leadership and how they viewed these things.” said Spires. “At IRS, I felt empowered as a CIO. I felt I could get a lot of things done. I worked very collaboratively across the C-suite and the business units. I had somewhat the opposite experience at DHS.” Tony Scott, former Federal CIO & managing partner at Ridge Lane Limited Partners, says that the Office of Management and Budget could enforce fixing this lack of visibility. “One thing I’d like to see is a call for clarification by OMB in terms of some of the gaps. I think even beyond the report, the budget side of OMB could even play a stronger role making sure the CIOs have budget visibility of the things that are going on in their agency,” said Scott. “If the OMB director said, ‘You’re not getting the funding for a program unless it has CIO visibility,’ that would be a message that would send a shockwave through the system.”