the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The Changing Role of Federal Chief Information Officers

Steven VanRoekel, US Chief Information Officer, announces the a new memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget outlining key responsibilities and authorities for Agency CIOs to increase efficiency in federal information technology.

Today, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum (PDF) that lays out key responsibilities and authorities for Agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs). These authorities will enable CIOs to reduce the number of wasteful duplicative systems, simplify services for the American people, and deliver more effective information technology [IT] to support their agency’s mission.

This memo builds on the work the Administration has done under the 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal IT Management, now in its eighth month of implementation. These reforms were developed to remedy what had become routine in Washington: IT projects running over budget, falling behind schedule, or failing to deliver promised functionality, hampering agency missions and wasting taxpayer dollars.

This situation is no longer commonplace. If you take a look at the achievements every CIO has already accomplished under the reform plan, they have fundamentally changed the way the federal government manages information technology. The memorandum will help CIOs deliver on key areas to drive results and yield an even greater impact.

Under the new memorandum there are four key areas for all CIOs to focus on: Governance, Commodity IT, Program Management, and Information Security. With responsibilities for these four areas, Agency CIOs will be held accountable for lowering operational costs, terminating and turning around troubled projects, and delivering meaningful functionality at a faster rate while enhancing the security of information systems.

In my time in both the private and public sectors, I know the importance of giving CIOs the tools necessary to drive change and to hold them accountable for results. For example, when I arrived at the Federal Communications Commission from the private sector, I set an ambitious goal of reducing IT operating costs and by aligning the agency’s strategic objectives with our IT investments and terminating things that were not working we delivered substantial results.

In the next year, the Administration will ask agencies to report through the President’s Management Council and the Chief Information Officer Council on implementation of this memo, to ensure that CIOs are positioned to achieve success and are delivering on their responsibilities. As the IT Reform plan continues to be implemented we will see more results from this fundamental shift in IT policy, permanently removing the barriers that have prevented consistent execution across the Federal government for so long.

Steven VanRoekel is the US Chief Information Officer.