DorobekInsider: Management of Change panel: The changing role of the CIO – the liner notes

I arrived last night here in Norfolk, VA for the ACT/IAC’s Management of Change 2009 conference. They have a pretty good agenda lined up — including Clay Shirky, a New York University professor and author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, which I have been re-reading this weekend. Right after lunch, I am moderating a panel headlined, The Changing Role of the Agency CIO. And we have a great panel lined up:

* David McClure, Vice President, Government Research, Gartner
* Bajinder Paul, Chief Information Officer, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
* Christine Rider, Chief Information Officer, Small Business Administration
* Sonny Bhagowalia, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Department of the Interior

Credit where credit is due: The panel was pulled together by CACI senior VP Cal Shintani.

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[If you are at MOC, the panel will take place Monday at 1:15p in the Hampton Roads Ballroom on the third floor.]

As I try to do when I’m out there, I pre-post the “liner” notes — and then I’ll add to them afterwards if there are links or items mentioned. [Previous versions of DorobekInsider liner notes are at the bottom of this entry.]

There are all sorts of issues to discuss regarding the changing role of the CIO. In fact, I literally just finished my July column for Signal magazine on the role of the CIO — so ithis will be a bit of a test to see if the panel ends up changing my mind.

By way of overview, for CIOs, this does seem like the best of times — and the worst of times. Several years ago, Nicholas Carr asked the provicative question: Does IT matter? That questions seems to have been answered clearly — it does, and particularly to Team Obama. But the question still dogging CIOs is: Do CIOs matter?

Aligning of the stars: The three e-gov administrators Sunday at Management of Change

Aligning of the stars: The three e-gov administrators Sunday at Management of Change

So it seems that there are real opportunities for CIOs, but there are also real challenges.

Several data points:
* A federal CIO: For the first time, there is a federal CIO. The Obama administration took the step of calling the government’s chief IT executive the federal CIO. Yes, Vivek Kundra still serves as the administrator of e-government and information technology, but… he now also has the title. Does that matter?

* Cloud computing: Many agencies are at least looking at cloud computing, where computing could become more like a utility. As I was pondering this, I posted the question on my Facebook page: Do CIOs matter? And GSA CIO Casey Coleman posted this response:

“A lot of factors are changing in our environment. For instance, I’ve read several reports that suggest that cloud computing will turn many IT functions into commodity services (which I believe) and render the CIO irrelevant (which I do not believe).”

* Web 2.0 and government 2.0: Almost every day, IT is playing a larger, more significant role in agency missions, but many of these Web 2.0 tools are being driven by the consumer market, they are easy to use, and they are Web based. How does theCIO avoid being the CI-No — the person who tells program people all the reasons why they can’t do something. [Kundra addressed this a bit recently — see DorobekInsider posts here… and here.)

* The power of the purse: The only CIO to have the power of the purse is at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where, by law, all IT money needs the VA CIO’s signature. Does that matter? And does it make the CIO matter? Again, from Facebook by Dan Mintz, former Transportation Department CIO and now at CSC:

“Part of the challenge for Federal CIO’s results from their general lack of control over IT budgets (for a variety of reasons) especially for Departmental CIO’s. Because of this, CIO’s have often too focused downwards on tactical/operational responsibilities and not so much updwards on strategic/business responsibilities (it is hard being strategic when the organization itself doesn’t actually have a serious business strategy – a different issue). 2.0 has the potential to change the equation. Since the delivery method is in fact the message (medium is the message, now where did we hear that before), the CIO now becomes part of the delivery of govenment services; a strategic value proposition.

Mintz also noted:

High means to identify 2-3 key value propositions to the organization where they sit, figure out how to tie IT capabilities to implementing those value propositions, and relentlessly focus on those 2-3 items.

Low means to come up with a strategy to consolidate provisioning of infrastructure, defining infrastructure in the broadest possible fashion. This allows standardization and increased utilization which reduces costs and improves security.

I believe the lever for implementing the ‘low’ part is to recognize the power of the compliance culture that Government CIO’s swim in, and use in particular security compliance as the lever.

* CIO as chief compliance officer: Another post on my Facebook page:

I believe CIO’s need to look high and low to have impact.

“Enterprise Architecture is an important support role for the business, yet has largely been relegated to a compliance role for IT in many agencies, limiting its possible impact. How will CIOs leverage this resource to turn around from reporting and compliance to actually driving the business?” He went on to add, “My other thought is a strong recommendation to reach out to career employees for advice on what is working and what is not working. Too often, there is a communication disconnect between the leadership and the rank and file, leading to the loss of great advice.”

* CIO v CTO: What is the difference? Do we need both?

So today, we’re going to ask the panelists to talk about the mission of their organization, the role of the CIO in that organization, how the role of the CIO is tied to the mission… and we’ll go from there…

I’m leaving the final thoughts to one of our panelists, Bajinder Paul, the chief information officer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency:

First, since we are talking about the changing role of the CIO, I think one of the focus ought to be how the CIO’s role from strictly technology centric to a business leader has evolved.  How must the CIOs view the business in aligning the right technology framework to ensure performance that meet the objectives of the business, increase transparency and maximize leveraging of technology and reducing cost.

I will try to follow up with additional information after the panel.
[As promised, earlier versions of the DorobekInsider liner notes:
* DorobekInsider.com: The Bisnow government 2.0 event Monday morning — the liner notes [April 26, 2009]
* ACT/IAC Government 2.0 panel: The liner notes — about middle age and centralization [March 11, 2009]
* Speaking to HHS about government 2.0: The liner notes [Feb. 5, 2009]