Lessons from a political CIO

I was privileged to serve as the CIO of the Department of Transportation during President George W. Bush’s second term as a political appointee. Toward the end of my time at DOT, I reflected on the lessons learned that I might pass on to the CIOs, or other political appointees, who will have a chance to serve in future administrations.

Why Recreate the Wheel?

One of the advantages of working in government is that we’re not only permitted, but encouraged to copy what works. If another team has grappled successfully with a problem similar to the one we’re facing, there are no proprietary barriers to learning from their experience—or even asking to re-use their work.

The Trust Factor

Making the right information available, to the right person, at the right time is critical to mission effectiveness and decision-making superiority.

Virtualizing for Disaster Recovery and Continuity of Operations (DR/COOP)

We’re all familiar with the savings that can be gained through IT virtualization in terms of reduced data center floor space, energy, and server maintenance costs. But the benefits of a virtual environment also extend to disaster recovery and continuity of operations (DR/COOP). Virtual environments make it easier and less costly to achieve rigorous recovery objectives.

Operational Resiliency for Enterprise Services

The efficiency and cost-advantages of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)-driven IT consolidation initiatives are clear. Why operate five centers of excellence, when one can serve the entire enterprise?

Open Government and an Appeal to Vendors

The laws that govern Federal procurement are carefully designed to be equitable to vendors, transparent to taxpayers, and auditable for mistakes or malfeasance.

Thinking about an Open Source Electronic Health Record

Thirty years ago, when clinicians at VA first started building the software components for a “high tech” electronic health record, they stood at the vanguard of patient-centered care.

Facing Our Cyber Insecurities – How To Really Make a Difference

NASA CIO Linda Cureton shares her views on cybersecurity and the role everyone plays in staying protected.

Farewell to Facebook? A Federal Executive’s Dilemma

Gary R. Galloway Deputy Director, Office of Information Assurance, U.S. Department of State, discusses his reasons for joining FaceBook in its early days and why now he is saying goodbye.

Cloud Computing Comes of Age

The federal government spends more than $75 billion annually on information technology. Due to its size and critical mission requirements, feds have often lagged behind the commercial sector in embracing new technologies. With cloud computing, however, the federal government is leading the way. From the earliest days of his Administration, President Obama along with his technology team focused on the importance of cloud computing as a key innovation that could reduce energy consumption and enhance agility within U.S. federal agencies. Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra laid out a vision for cloud computing that addresses the “Five Pillars” of the…

Cloud Computing: Bull, Silver Bullet, or Silver Lining?

I suppose you can’t have a Shoot Out about Cloud Computing without talking about Silver Bullets. So, bang, bang, here goes! There is a lot of discussion about Cloud Computing and it has become a very popular term. Because of this, there is a lot of confusion about the definition of this evolutionary computing capability. Nevertheless, the confusion and hype do not negate the significant benefit that this technology offers. Grave budget problems are forcing most Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to seriously look at these capabilities and their potential to save costs. Furthermore, the Obama Administration, through the Office of…

True Transparency and Naked Leadership

There is much discussion about transparency in government especially as it relates to Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, twitter, and various social networking applications. Transparency in a literal sense simply means to be able to see right through something. Definitions and common understanding in a government context varies. It would be a mistake to consider transparency purely in the technology context of Web 2.0 tools. It should be considered from a personal leadership perspective. And personal could mean you as a leader or you and your organization. But, this means more than just putting data up on static websites,…

Gov 2.0: Getting Serious About Transforming Government

There are a lot of people around who are beginning to transform government into something new that realizes the vision of the Founders. I’m trying to focus on the gist of what’s happening, bearing witness to their efforts, on their requests. While these conversations have involved multiple levels of government in the US, UK, and other, the orientation here will be Washington. My focus will result in a little oversimplification, just to get the word out. Overall, what we’re talking about is reinventing government from the bottom up, where web workers and ordinary citizens engage via the Net in large…

Cybersecurity in the Spotlight

The Obama Administration is quite forward-thinking in its use of technology. From the creation of new positions within the Executive Branch (including the CIO, CTO, and cybersecurity czar) to the use of social media for public communication, IT security has become a paramount initiative. On Wednesday, June 24, I sat down with Federal News Radio host, Tom Temin, to discuss the challenges facing the Department of State during this progressive time in the Federal Government. Using technology to facilitate citizen–government dialogue, simplify government services, increase government transparency with public information, and public diplomacy are top priorities for the Administration’s new…

Technology Innovation Can Help Spur Economic Recovery

On the world stage, the U.S. has always been a powerful engine of innovation. Defined broadly, innovation occurs when we generate new ideas that continue to challenge and push the current thinking forward to make a positive and lasting impact. In this economy and beyond, innovation is exactly what we need. Improvements that drive productivity are critical, and technological innovation will play a major role in putting the financial stability of the nation back on the right track. History indicates that the countries and companies that invest in innovation and R&D during an economic downturn will be best positioned to…

Innovative IT Security Tools and Techniques at the Department of State

For those of you in the Federal IT community who are not engaged in the area of IT security as your primary pursuit, I thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the innovative tools and techniques that we employ at the Department of State to secure our worldwide wide network.  This is the first of a series that will hopefully inform and enlighten the IT Federal community, resulting in an exchange of ideas. In this fast-paced world of information technology, new threats appear daily that result in volumes of lost personally identifiable information and crimes including identity…

The Relevant CIO

Much will be said over the next few weeks about the role of the CIO in the Federal Government. Oh, many folks have already gotten together to discuss such things. Eventually, I think it boils down to one basic principle: The CIO must be relevant. But what must a CIO do to be relevant? I suppose that it may be a bit irreverent to suggest, by implication, that the CIO has been not relevant. Perhaps. But relevance is relative – and varies from CIO to CIO according to her mission. Consider this Esai Morales quote: I love being irreverent. But…

Blogging – It’s a Great Management Tool

When I became the Chief Information Officer at GSA in mid-2007, I spoke with many of the OCIO team to understand how I could help my new staff succeed. The big issue that I heard was improved communications. We had recently undergone a reorganization, consolidating many regional IT positions into the central CIO organization and almost doubling the size of the OCIO. These new team members across the country did not feel that they were connected to their new home organization and didn’t know about news and developments that affected them. To address this need, I started an internal GSA…