The CIO position at the Department of Agriculture is gaining clout, and that's a good thing for Chris Smith. The agency's CIO needs all the leverage he can get in managing several IT projects that represent big changes for the agency. Agriculture is midway through consolidating more than 100 data centers to five. It's also emerging as an early adopter of software as a service on a broad scale. In December, USDA disclosed plans, via a contract with Dell, to tap into Microsoft's Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications, and Live Meeting online services for 100,000 employees and 20,000 contractors. Smith tied the move to a broader initiative to modernize and streamline Agriculture's IT infrastructure, including 21 separate email systems, and make the latest generation of communications and collaboration tools available to its workers.
Before becoming CIO, Smith held a number of IT leadership positions at USDA, including deputy CIO, associate CIO for integration and operations, and CIO for rural development.