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CIO Shuffle

Are we about to see a turnover in CIOs at cabinet-level departments as the Bush administration begins its second term?

Are we about to see a turnover in CIOs at cabinet-level departments as the Bush administration begins its second term?That's a possibility raised by Mark Forman, the one-time de facto federal CIO. "A number of people are gearing up to leave," says Forman, who left his job as the White House's E-administrator 15 months ago to become executive VP/worldwide for startup Cassatt Corp. "Buddies are asking for names of people. That's always a sign of change." Forman didn't speculate on specific CIOs who might leave.

Forman points out that cabinet secretaries like to have their own people in senior departmental posts. Seven departmental secretaries have announced their intent to resign from the president's cabinet.

Within the first six months of George W. Bush's presidency in 2001, 12 of 26 major departments and agencies changed CIOs. The difference then from today was that a Republican administration replaced a Democrat one. At that time, only four of the CIOs were political appointees; the remainder were career IT pros. Today, nine are political appointees. (That doesn't count political appointee Steve Cooper, CIO at Homeland Security, which wasn't a cabinet department when Bush took office.)

CIOs most in jeopardy of being axed: those not making progress on the President's Management Agenda, Forman says. For the most part, the departments with new cabinet secretaries are doing well to conform with the President's Management Agenda.

The one exception: Homeland Security, where secretary Tom Ridge announced his intent to leave by Feb 1. But don't count out Cooper. Homeland Security is unique; not yet two years old, the department is in the midst of integrating 22 agencies, a colossal tasks that will take years to complete. Besides, Forman notes, Cooper is popular on Capitol Hill. "Steve's been anointed on the Hill," Forman says. "It's quite clear he's got the trust of key folks in appropriations committees."

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