Help for New Federal CIOs

Federal CIO Transition Guide offers advice on government opportunities for improvement.  

by / January 15, 2009

Upon President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, newly appointed agency heads in federal government will begin adjustment to the new administration. In order to help federal CIOs and other senior leaders during this transition time, the CIO Council created a Transition Guide. The guide explains the role of the Federal CIO Council, and begins to outline ways of improving government performance and efficiency.

Created in 1996 and then codified into law in 2002, the council is an interagency forum for improving federal IT management practices in order to increase government performance and efficiency. Consisting of various committees -- each focused on issues such as best practices and privacy -- the council has had success with a number of e-government initiatives and lines of business, which now run as normal operating procedures.

With this guide, the council works to initiate a dialog with the new administration on ways to improve IT management and shape the future of government. The gouncil's guide lists six opportunities for using technology and information to enhance government ability to serve citizens:

  • Empowering the Government Through Information Sharing Federal CIOs have recently been encouraging the sharing of information between agencies, partners, industries and citizens. Sharing, rather than concealing and safeguarding information, leads to better informed decision-making, encourages innovation and collaboration across government, and informs and engages citizens. Data sharing also helps to eliminate redundant systems and allows for adopting of best practices. The federal CIO's challenge is to develop incentives to encourage this shift from guarding information to sharing it across agencies.

  • Protecting the Networks and Systems Required in the Information Age In today's Information Age, attacks on our networks are increasing and growing more sophisticated, putting sensitive information at risk. Protecting this information requires a focus on maintaining the sustainability of the Web while still enabling people to get the information they need. The council has established a committee of IT leaders to improve security of the federal networks and information.
  • Tapping the Power of a Collaborative Citizenry Web 2.0 technologies and service-oriented architecture have allowed people at all levels to receive and contribute information, gives users the most current and accurate information. Social networking tools -- such as YouTube and Facebook -- also let government interact with citizens in a new way, providing greater transparency and encouraging collaboration.
  • Leveraging Scale-Economies and Combined Expertise to Achieve Best Practices and Act as an "Enterprise" Government has recently been encouraging agencies to operate as a united federal "enterprise." Consolidating common functions, for example, helps to reduce costs and encourage interoperability through standardization. Concepts like managed services and performance-based contracting let agencies work efficiently with industry and enable the adoption of best practices. To continue to adopt enterprisewide solutions, the enterprise needs strong leadership and trust that allows people to relinquish control of individual solutions.
  • Ensuring the Federal Government is an "Employer of Choice" In order to attract Generation Y employees, current employees need to gain new skill sets, and agencies must become an "employer of choice" for these incoming workers. Agencies must embrace Web 2.0 technologies -- new employees will want to be able to produce and share their own content. The renewed focus on public service also provides a way to attract talented employees to meaningful jobs in government.
  • Focusing on Environmental Responsibility Green computing can not only improve the environment, but service as well. Increasing cloud computing and virtual computing environments, for example, can optimize workloads, cut costs, and increase flexibility and IT responsiveness. Discovering and utilizing energy-efficient best practices will allow the enterprise to more effectively use information technology while reducing its environmental footprint.

The full Federal Chief Information Officers Council Transition Guide.