DOT’s Richard McKinney on FITARA and CIO authority

Chief Information Officer of the Transportation Department Richard McKinney talks to FedScoop about the shifting landscape of CIO responsibility.

The mantle of innovation for businesses and government has shifted, according to Transportation Department Chief Information Officer Richard McKinney. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, he told FedScoop in an exclusive interview, has placed the future of enterprise largely in the hands of the IT community.

“We’re at an interesting tipping point, I think. There’s a lot of things — it’s sort of a perfect storm moment,” McKinney said. “We have FITARA; we have this very robust discussion about CIO accountability and authority. We’re seeing the continuing maturation of cloud and cloud services, so we have those two factors coming together, and I think we’re at this point where folks in my job have the authority and tools to really begin to think about what’s our construct for the future?”

The crux of that construct will be simplification.


With the advent of cloud technology at the doorstep of enterprise and network virtualization on the horizon, reconstructing legacy systems will lead to budgetary efficiency as well as enhanced cybersecurity, McKinney argues.

“We’re starting by simplifying. We’re looking at the way we have built that network, and we’re trying to simplify it,” he said. “One purpose is the purpose of savings; the other is the purpose of security.”

In order to maximize these elements of performance, McKinney stressed public-private collaboration as key.

“It’s going to be a hybrid: What services can we procure from the private sector and quit doing for ourselves?” he posed. “And [the services will be] blended right in and seamless with the things where we have to retain control and management of that aspect of our infrastructure. It’s that blending of the two — making it seamless to the customer, making it seamless from a management standpoint — that makes for a challenge.”

The challenge is one that will evolve through a healthy dialogue and mutual understanding, McKinney hopes.


“It’s that conversation — having it at the table when the business is reimagining itself — that’s to me the IT nirvana, if you will,” he said. “That’s where we need to go to.”

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