What's The Hardest CIO Job? - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
4/17/2008
01:06 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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What's The Hardest CIO Job?

It must be tough to run IT in a big bank these days, what with all the regulation and oversight going on. Logistics and shipping companies put a strain on IT systems. Google's CIO just left, perhaps for good reason. However, my nomination for the toughest CIO job is ...

It must be tough to run IT in a big bank these days, what with all the regulation and oversight going on. Logistics and shipping companies put a strain on IT systems. Google's CIO just left, perhaps for good reason. However, my nomination for the toughest CIO job is ...... the Department of Homeland Security's top tech spot. Last week, President Bush announced his intention to appoint a new CIO for DHS. His name is Richard Mangogna, and he works as a consultant for the Mason Harriman Group, a New Jersey firm that specializes in executive "hired guns" -- CIOs and CFOs brought in to help complete IT projects.

It looks like there's something of a revolving door on the CIO's office at DHS. The department's previous CIO, Scott Charbo, left in February to become Deputy Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), part of DHS. His deputy, Charles Armstrong, has been acting as interim DHS CIO, but he's leaving to be CIO of Customs and Border Protection, also part of DHS, according to reports. Steve Cooper was Homeland's first CIO from 2003 to 2005, when he left to take the CIO job at the American Red Cross.

Little wonder, though, that the CIO tenure at DHS is relatively short: Talk about an integration nightmare. With more than 200,000 employees and a budget of almost $45 billion, Homeland Security is the third-largest department in the federal government, behind only Defense and Veterans Affairs. Then there's the politics -- not only office politics, but politics politics. For instance, last year members of a House committee raked Charbo over the coals for some cybersecurity problems.

Mangogna may have the chops to make it work. Before going to Mason Harriman, he was CIO of JP Morgan Chase, and before that the division head of Business Re-engineering Management at Chase Manhattan Bank, according to the statement by the White House.

I wish Mr. Mangogna the best of luck. There's nothing I want more than for the CIO of the Department of Homeland Security to succeed. I wouldn't want the job. Not that anybody asked me.

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