Federal CIOs should expect the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Services Administration and the new federal CTO to set governmentwide IT directions, according to a new report from Gartner. Presidential memos issued by President Barack Obama lack specific details, leaving these key players to articulate how the federal government will use technology to expand openness, transparency and collaboration.

The report, Obama Takes Quick Steps to Ensure Open and Transparent Government, published on Feb. 6 by Gartner's government analysts David McClure and Andrea Di Maio, says federal CIOs will need to "work collaboratively with other agency executives to provide input and prepare for the resulting conjunction of content management, business intelligence and Web 2.0 capabilities."

They will also have to "ensure timely online dissemination of information about agency activities, operations and decisions, and support for large-scale public feedback on these issues."

Another key finding centered on expectations for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. "Agency heads should already be thinking about how FOIA can be wrapped transparently into overall agency performance reviews, and not treated as a stand-alone statutory reporting activity."

The report also recommends that federal CIOs establish partnerships with the heads of public affairs and chief privacy officials in their agencies, "as these individuals often play a key role in Web portal content management strategies and directly address agency transparency, interaction and participation with the public and the agency's primary constituency groups."

Among a number of recommendations, McClure and Di Maio urge federal CIOs to:

  • start planning for a public that will use multiple online channels and devices to access and provide feedback to government information;
  • address Web portal practices, usability and intelligent search capabilities to improve public access to government channels;
  • examine how existing business intelligence and e-discovery tools capture, analyze and utilize unstructured data;
  • inventory infrastructure modernization capabilities for more high volumes of public interaction;
  • investigate opportunities that Web 2.0 creates;
  • explore how to reach out to external social networks to gather feedback and increase participation;
  • guard against accidental collection or public release of unauthorized, sensitively classified or personal identification information; and
  • help agency heads communicate to OMB and Congress the activities, impacts and results from operating in a more open, transparent and collaborative fashion offered by information and communication technologies.
Tod Newcombe, Editor  |  Editor, Public CIO