New CIOs Transform Government

New CIOs Transform Government

by / June 25, 2008

The Feb. 16 issue of The Economist had an unusually long special report on the state of e-government globally. As a magazine not known for pulling punches, the article was highly critical of the lack of progress made so far, and the barriers that must be overcome if government is ever to be transformed by the Information and Internet ages.

But a small glimmer of success stood out among the many thousands of words of reporting about e-government's mediocre results. In one close look at how a government CIO was trying to bring about change, the reporter spent some time talking with Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer of the District of Columbia.

For those who follow the public-sector CIO community, the attention given to Kundra isn't surprising. Since he took over as the district's tech czar last year, he has jumped on the IT scene with a great deal of enthusiasm. Kundra isn't afraid to tackle bureaucratic sloth and waste, often using new and untried technology tools and tactics that sometimes seem downright breathtaking in the risk-averse public sector.

Fortunately for the public sector, the district isn't the only jurisdiction to benefit from a CIO who won't take no for an answer. Throughout federal, state and local government, a new breed of CIOs is beginning to make its mark. In this issue of Public CIO, we have made our personal selection among the many candidates and present them as part of a cover story on up-and-coming public-sector CIOs.

One thing you won't hear these talented people say is that they specifically chose a career path to become a public CIO. As Merrill Douglas discovered in her article, a clearly defined road map for becoming a CIO doesn't exist. What's clear is that experience will help cover a lot of ground, and so too will an understanding about the business and political sides of government. Having a long technology pedigree is no longer a priority, according to the experts interviewed in this article.

Finally I'd like to bid farewell to Public CIO's long-time associate editor, Jessica Jones, who has decided to move on to a new career. Jessica has been with Public CIO since its first issue and has been a critical member of the editorial team. We will miss her talent, dedication and hard work.


Tod Newcombe, Editor Editor, Public CIO