Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
3/6/2009
07:52 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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10 Questions Our New Federal CIO Needs To Answer

UPDATE: Bob Evans has posted a new column on this subject called "The $200-Million-A-Day Man: Our New Federal CIO." You can read it here. It will be fascinating to see if newly minted federal CIO Vivek Kundra can establish a meaningful agenda, command the respect (or if necessary the fear) among the myriad agency CIOs he'll be trying to herd, and sooner rather than later get beyon

UPDATE: Bob Evans has posted a new column on this subject called "The $200-Million-A-Day Man: Our New Federal CIO." You can read it here. It will be fascinating to see if newly minted federal CIO Vivek Kundra can establish a meaningful agenda, command the respect (or if necessary the fear) among the myriad agency CIOs he'll be trying to herd, and sooner rather than later get beyond such vague chatter as "improving citizen participation" and "promoting interoperability." Here are 10 questions to help our new federal CIO gain some focus.1) Who's your boss? In the private sector, it's much better to report to the CEO than the CFO. This morning, the Washington Post said you "will operate under the auspices of the White House." While such piffle might play well inside the Beltway, folks elsewhere will want to know what the heck does that mean?

2) How many CIOs will be reporting to you? And is that a straight-line reporting structure so that you have at your disposal an oak paddle (not an oar-type paddle, but a whipping-stick-type paddle) with holes drilled for greater acceleration? Or will you have a dotted-line structure that arms you with conflict-resolution pamphlets?

3) Who are your direct reports? How big is your staff? Your public comments today were sprinkled with stuff about visibility and transparency and such -- so who's on your team, and what are they responsible for achieving?

4) What's your plan for your first 100 days? What project will you tackle first?

5) By what metrics will your performance be judged? And by whom? And how will that measure up to the pledges we keep hearing about "the most transparent administration ever"?

6) To fix the apparently intractable IT disasters at the IRS and FBI and other places, will you consider using U.S.-based companies who happen to have (as many thousands of companies do here in 2009) employees in other countries? For example: Google, IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, Oracle, EMC, Cisco, Symantec, Cognizant, and many many more?

7) Will you commit up-front to cutting the $71 billion budget that the federal government somehow, some way, managed to spend on IT in 2008?

8) What, if any, oversight will Congress have over you and your team? These days, Congress is insinuating itself into every facet of the daily lives of Americans -- how will you or your "controlling auspices" be able to ward off that type of smothering assistance?

9) How would you describe the ways in which your role and that of the proposed CTO will (a) complement each other; (b) be completely distinct from one another; and (c) have to be carefully calibrated to ensure everyone on both teams is striving to reach the same goals?

10) Before you immerse yourself too deeply into some severely hairy projects that you and you alone in all the world are capable of overseeing, we must ask: have you paid all your income taxes?

Good luck, Mr. Kundra, and remember: keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

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