InformationWeek Government highlights 50 IT leaders that are closing the tech gap.
Government agencies are a step behind the private sector in their technology adoption-- federal CIO Vivek Kundra calls it the "tech gap" in government -- and they have a habit of taking on big, complex IT projects that too often fail. But that's changing, as IT leaders in federal, state, and local government take advantage of new technologies such as cloud computing and seek efficiencies and improved performance through more rigorous project oversight.
InformationWeek's Government CIO 50 are leading this trend. Some manage vast IT resources, while others have far-reaching policy influence or are behind-the-scenes players. The common thread is that they're driving innovation and giving their agencies the tools they need to better serve the public.
New York City
New York City's CIO got a quick start when she came on board in January 2010. Carole Post immediately conducted a review of the city's IT operations, followed by aggressive plans to consolidate its data centers, lower costs by $100 million over five years, reduce energy consumption, and improve IT service quality.
By mid-2010, Post's project list had grown to include upgrading the city's network and establishing a mobile application platform. In October, Post and Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out the city's IT strategy more broadly, giving the CIO increased power and signing a deal with Microsoft that will gradually move New York to cloud services. In support of open government, Post has advocated for making city data sets public and for the NYC BigApps 2.0 development competition, which encourages people to create Web and mobile apps using the city's data.
Before becoming CIO, Post was director of agency services in the mayor's office, where she oversaw the performance of city agencies and led the development of a performance-reporting system and a stimulus-tracking tool.
Office Of Management And Budget
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra's focus this year is on execution. He's eliminating hundreds of federal data centers, taking major steps to increase federal IT performance and accountability, and has launched a 25-point plan to reform federal IT.
The White House
Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra has had a keen focus on the open government initiative, federal healthcare IT efforts, and driving development of ExpertNet, a wiki that will let private sector experts weigh in on public policy.
Office Of Management And Budget
Jeffrey Zients, OMB's deputy director for management, has brought increased focus to IT project management, urging agencies to "crowdsource" for new ideas and pausing financial system modernizations to review them.
Defense Intelligence Agency
As CIO and deputy director for information management at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Grant Schneider oversees operational IT and IT policy for the military intelligence agency.
DIA recently ordered 12,000 new computers as part of a multiyear client virtualization effort that will let computers access multiple classified networks, rather than requiring users to have one computer per network. Along the way, Schneider has improved security and manageability and cut costs. The agency is moving forward with a Web-based working environment that will let intelligence analysts choose which applications they use, much like Apple's App Store. DIA also plays a role in the intelligence community's identity and access management effort and in its Intelligence Community Data Layer, a project designed to make intelligence databases more interoperable.
DIA's IT organization, previously decentralized, has reorganized around a global model in anticipation of offering enterprise-wide services like email, virtualized clients, and search. Before becoming CIO, Schneider was chief of the agency's enterprise IT operations group, where he helped centralize IT management.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Adrian Gardner has been the top IT executive at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for about a year, but he's no stranger to federal IT. Gardner was formerly CIO at the National Weather Service, and served in senior IT positions at the Department of Energy.
That background helped Gardner quickly get involved at Goddard, with initiatives in cloud computing, high-performance computing, and government transparency. One of Gardner's most visible projects is the deployment of cloud computing in a containeran instance of NASA's Nebula cloud platform, originally developed at Ames Research Center, that's being rolled into Goddard in a shipping container.
Gardner has been focused on managing the risk of the IT aspects of the space shuttle program, but that role will diminish as the shuttle program winds down. He's also working on cybersecurity projects like single sign-on and developing a 1,000-day IT strategic plan.
Stephen Fletcher has demonstrated a commitment to innovation as CIO of Utah, where he's tapped into cloud computing, consolidated infrastructure, and pursued shared services even across state lines.
Utah has virtualized more than 80% of its servers and consolidated 35 data centers into two, along the way improving the performance of many regular IT functions and saving the state millions in operational and capital costs. Private cloud computing has been a key part of the consolidation strategy.
Fletcher has been a proponent of social media and open government, including a new public notice website. The state also deployed a VoIP upgrade and a redundant gigabit Internet connection. Plans for 2011 include a new desktop strategy, deployment of unified communications, and hosted email.
In 2010, Fletcher completed his terms as president of the National Association of State CIOs and as a liaison to the Federal CIO Council. Before becoming Utah's CIO, he was CIO of the U.S. Department of Education.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
hen the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came to the aid of scientists and the public with a new mapping website that tracked the oil spill, fishery closings, and other data. NOAA hustled the underlying software from an academic computing environment to the Web in just a few weeks, and the site received millions of page views. One reason the agency was able to pull it off so quickly: CIO Joe Klimavicz has an affinity for geospatial applications, having joined NOAA in 2007 from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he was deputy CIO.
The NOAA has increased its investment in supercomputers during Klimavicz's tenure, with help from $170 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The agency replaced its operational supercomputers in the fall of 2009, and this year signed Computer Sciences Corp. to upgrade to a 1.1-petaflop machine. The new computers could greatly improve hurricane models and weather forecasts, and better analyze climate change.
In addition to supercomputing, Klimavicz is focused on cloud computing. The agency is reviewing bids for cloud email and uses hosted VoIP and emergency notification. Klimavicz is also working to get a handle on the NOAA's data life-cycle management strategy, as the agency stores and manages all of its climate data; its Princeton office alone has 20 Pbytes of data. The NOAA's security monitoring capabilities have evolved greatly in the past year. And a new IT acquisition program, NOAALink, aims to save the agency money on what had been an ad hoc contracting process.
Department Of Defense
After her nomination was held up for months, Teri Takai was thrust into a major IT reorganization when she stepped in as the new CIO at the Department of Defense last November.
Takai plays a lead role in the ongoing effort to redefine the CIO position at DOD, which will include phasing out Defense's previous CIO organization and moving some of that office's functions elsewhere in the Pentagon. Some of the projects on her plate include data center consolidation, the rollout of department-wide email services, new ERP systems, and cybersecurity (she'll need to work closely with the DOD's new CyberCommand on that front). With an annual IT budget of about $30 billion, Takai also must find ways to contribute to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' five-year, $100 billion cost-cutting plan.
Takai came to Washington from California, where as CIO of the state she led a multiyear IT transformation effort. While there, Takai set aggressive data center consolidation and sustainability goals and brought more rigorous governance to all aspects of California's IT operations. Before that, Takai was CIO of the state of Michigan and held IT management roles at Ford and EDS.
Department Of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security was built from two dozen "component" organizationsthe Coast Guard, Secret Service, and othersand IT silos were an inevitable result. CIO Richard Spires is looking to consolidate and simplify the IT infrastructure that serves them all.
Job No. 1 is to consolidate 24 data centers down to two, a project that's under way. This hands-on experience makes Spires somewhat of an expert at data center consolidation, which explains why he was selected to lead the government-wide Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which aims to eliminate 800 data centers by 2015.
Spires also plans to build an enterprise operations center that will give network administrators a more complete and real-time view of IT operations across the agency. And he's looking to provide enterprise-wide services, such as email. Before joining DHS, Spires was CIO at the Internal Revenue Service.
National Security Agency
Lonny Anderson, CTO and CIO of the secretive National Security Agency, supports the agency's IT-intensive Signals Intelligence mission to gather foreign intelligence from communications, weapons, and radar systems, and he has a hand in NSA's work on the front lines of cybersecurity.
The agency is building cryptologic centers in Georgia, Texas, and Hawaii that will employ more than 1,000 employees at each location. The centers will be outfitted with new technology, including thin clients, wireless, and virtualized servers, and are part of an agency-wide initiative to leverage NSA's internally developed High Assurance Platform, a secure client virtualization framework.
NSA is heavily invested in cloud computing. It operates a utility cloud analogous to Amazon's EC2, where its applications run; a data cloud powered by MapReduce and Hadoop; and a distributed storage cloud. Anderson is pushing for cloud adoption across the U.S. Intelligence Community.
One of NSA's biggest projects is a $1.2 billion data center under construction in Utah that will be operated by Anderson's team and support federal cybersecurity efforts. NSA broke ground on the facility in January and plans to complete it in the next several years.
It's been a busy spring for Susan Lawrence. In early March, the 38-year veteran was named CIO of the U.S. Army, filling the position vacated by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, who retired in November. A few weeks later, Lawrence was promoted to three-star general, becoming only the fourth woman ever to achieve that rank in the Army and one of only two on active duty.
Modernizing the military branch's enterprise network is a top priority. "We want a network that can provide soldiers and civilians information of all categories and forms, as well as a means to collaborate in real time, at the exact moment required, in any environment, under all circumstances," she said on the occasion of her promotion. Other areas of focus include IT consolidation and standardization, data management, and organizational culture.
The Army is in the midst of a data center consolidation strategy that's part of a broader undertaking to realign and close bases. As part of its consolidation effort, the Army last year issued a moratorium on server purchases and issued an RFP for private compute clouds.
Lawrence was formerly the commanding general for the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, which operates and defends the Army's computer networks. She has served as director of command, control, communications, and computer systems for U.S. Central Command and chief of staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
Department Of Health And Human Services
Todd Park has become the voice of open government. Park not only drives the open government strategy for the Department of Health and Human Services, where he is CTO, but his enthusiasm for the benefits of open governmentand his advice on how to do itare helping other agencies make it happen.
Park has been involved in the creation of the HealthCare.gov insurance comparison site, development of the "Blue Button" online tool for downloading veterans' health records, and the release of APIs for application developers. Also under his watch, an online community dedicated to healthcare data was introduced on Data.gov, a Data Council was formed at HHS, and the agency made open data its "default" policy.
Before joining HHS, Park was co-founder, chief development officer, and executive VP at health IT company Athenahealth, a management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Department Of The Interior
The CIO of the Department of the Interior traditionally hasn't had much clout, but new CIO Bernie Mazer is exercising newfound authority in the agency's push to modernize and consolidate its IT operations.
Interior is taking a big step toward centralizing IT operations by mandating that there be only one CIO across the department, abolishing many bureau CIO positions and giving Mazer control of all infrastructure spending and IT procurement. In the process, the department is streamlining administration and cutting back on office space and IT staff.
In December, Interior announced an IT consolidation plan aimed at saving the agency $500 million over the next five years. Mazer's office is developing policies for capital planning, enterprise architecture, and more. The agency plans to cut the number of data centers it operates almost in half and recently created iStat, its version of the White House's IT review sessions.
Mazer was formerly CIO at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and an IT manager at USAID and the Department of Defense.
Patent And Trademark Office
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, long maligned for its dependence on paper-based processes, has finally launched an IT upgrade that will hasten the patent process.
CIO John Owens' strategy, called Patents End-to-End, aims to cut the time from patent application to final determination by 42% by streamlining the patent examination process and upgrading and consolidating PTO systems, some of which are decades old. The upgraded systems will accept, search, and publish XML-based patent applications, employing analytics and search in the process, but could take a few years to deploy.
PTO has also entered into a groundbreaking agreement with Google to put its collection of 7 million patent applications, grants, and related information on the Web at no cost; that information was previously available only for a fee. The product of that collaboration, called Google Patents, is in beta.
Owens also has championed PTO's telework policy. Employees are encouraged to work from home using their own computers, made possible by a secure VPN connection and collaboration tools. Owens estimates that can be done at a cost of $105 per employee, compared with $2,800 per person if PTO had to fully equip employees with new gear. Before joining the Patent Office in 2008, Owens was an IT manager at AOL.
National Cyber Security Division, Department Of Homeland Security
Bobbie Stempfley isn't exactly a federal CIO, but she does have one of the most important federal IT jobsheading up cybersecurity for all civilian agencies. Stempfley gave up a CIO job at the Defense Information Systems Agency to move into the new role last year.
Under her leadership, the National Cyber Security Division has increased its role as a unifying force for agencies' cybersecurity efforts. Stempfley heads a cross-section of cybersecurity efforts, including public-private partnerships to secure critical infrastructure, a national cyberrisk management program, and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a system to alert government and industry of threats and respond to them. She's spearheading deployment of the Einstein intrusion protection and prevention systems, and last year helped manage Cyber Storm III, the largest of a series of simulated cyberattack exercises that included industry, government, and foreign nations.
Prior to being DISA's CIO, Stempfley was its vice director for strategic planning and information and its CTO.