We wanted to ask: What do current disruptive technologies mean to the roles of the Federal CIO office?
Traditionally, the operating model and funding approach for IT has been based on the Brooks Act of 1965 and only added minor portfolio integration concepts based on the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. These acts were focused on internal IT cost-based centers, management information systems, mission control systems, and enterprise resource planning systems. These systems were all either internal mission or data processing systems used to run business. Since 1996, a lot has happened in the IT based. It has moved from cost center to profit center in the private sector and in the government space to service or profit center as well (i.e. profit for IRS in efiling). As normally is the case when shifting positions of an asset to the executive level, this also means the investment models change and shift as it is now a critical part of executing transactions and interactions direct with the public, yet our policies are now 20-50 years old.
A few general observations :
- The Federal experiment with Clinger Cohen and Circular A-130 addressing the role of the CIO and Enterprise Architecture has not neared fulfilling its objective. New strategies such as CloudFirst and Federal Shared Services are guiding investment, but not new roles of CIOs.
- The policy and roles need to be readdressed to manage disruptive technologies like shared services, commoditized cloud computing, information exchange or data and knowledge driven analytics and “who-knows-what-else” coming down the line.
- The CIO’s shop has not been able to transform to meet the basic demands of security and infrastructure disruptions let alone attempts to solve the needs of the mission.
- Additionally, Enterprise Architecture is and has been miscast and ill-defined within the CIO organization and as a result is being used for compliance reporting or to support internal CIO initiatives leaving the mission out in the cold.
If these statements are agreed to be true, Is it a wonder that a nearly a dozen years after the circular was published that people are still asking “What is Enterprise Architecture”? Or does the Capital Planning & Investment Control (CPIC) process really lend itself to shared services? Are these skills and tools in the right organization?
Opportunities abound if the right people are managing the disruptions
The federal government opportunities for improvement are many but the most valued will be floating betwixt and between the current organizational, process and data architectures – in the federal architecture ether.
This poses an especially difficult task to the business. The mission leaders need to be allocating skilled resources to understanding how to assess the value of disruptive technologies or service changes to address their goals. It is old school thinking that the CIO as a service provider can penetrate their mission problems with the timely and appropriate application of technology. The development of extensible cloud computing platforms with transparent accounting systems provides an essential key for the mission to step in, reposition itself, and own the movement towards shared services, enhanced information exchanges or improved mission processes. After all, they are the immediate beneficiaries.
What might these new roles look like?
What might this look like from a 100,000 foot perspective? In a Business Week article, it summarizes the new role of the Federal CIO, historically an IT manager, is now:
In sum, the successful CIO needs an intimate idea of how current technology can increase the company’s sales and not just reduce costs or improve clerical productivity.
Beyond the CIO role, there are several other key leadership roles to consider in new, coordinated policy.
- The future CIO role should be targeted to managing infrastructure services and support shared mission services. The CIO can retain the acronym but in essence they should be managers of cross cutting infrastructure and once agreed to and designed and built by the business – shared mission services.
- The Chief Architect provides the analysis and design expertise to the Program Managers and Chief Knowledge Officer to help plan for the adoption of the disruption.
- Ultimate accountability for performance will be the charge of the Chief Performance Officer.
In order to achieve true business agility while supported by the adoption of disruptive technologies and services, these roles will need to be figured out how to be repositioned to improve the government’s business capabilities and satisfy citizens, businesses, and cross-government customers.