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Few CIOs involved in agency succession planning

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Most federal information technology executives are not involved in their department’s succession planning activities, according to a new workforce study.

The 25 IT executives included in the ACT-IAC (American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council) study said their agency’s succession planning program and human capital resource management strategy were either partially developed or poorly developed or non-existent. Seventy percent said they were not included in succession planning discussions.

None of the 16 human capital executives surveyed had metrics that measured whether their agency’s succession, skills and management needs were being met.

 ”The human capital practitioners felt as though they are delivering succession planning programs as they are required to do by the Office of Personnel Management,” Dr. Susan Grunin, who chairs the ACT-IAC group that commissioned the study, said in a statement. “However, one of the key results we found is that many IT operational managers are not aware these program[s] exist in their areas. If they are aware, many find them to be ineffective at producing managers capable of executing agency initiatives.”

Other findings include:

- Intra-agency succession planning does not happen uniformly across government.

- Internal communications in this area are often ineffective.

- Some agency IT operational managers develop and use their own internal succession planning processes.

However, NASA and Commerce Department were touted as having good succession planning structures that require senior officials to develop, maintain and operate human capital programs based on the agency’s goals and objectives. Both programs allow management at multiple levels to provide feedback.

In a TechAmerica CIO survey released in May, the IT trade organization found that 52 percent of CIOs do not have formal succession plans to replace retiring leaders and top managers. The consequence of not doing so could mean a downward spiral in IT leadership capability, according to TechAmerica.

In its study, ACT-IAC recommends that agencies:

- Publicize their management development and succession planning widely. NASA uses monthly reports, video-conferencing and intranet sites to get the word out.

- Include rotational assignments for their managers as part of succession planning.

- Train new agency leaders on the purpose and benefits of succession planning.

The study also recommends that OPM provide a virtual or in-person succession planning forum for agencies to learn best practices and updates on succession planning policies.

 

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SSA’s CIO overhaul lacked adequate planning, GAO says

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The Social Security Administration did not fully assess the impact of a major internal overhaul last June, which eliminated the chief information office and reassigned its functions, according to testimony from a Government Accountability Office official.
 
At the time, most of the responsibilities for managing information technology and the IT budget were reassigned to SSA’s Office of Systems. Two months later, then CIO Frank Baitman resigned. Kelly Croft, deputy commissioner for systems, assumed the CIO duties and oversight of those IT workers.
 
SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue said the effort would increase efficiency, but SSA did not develop a management plan that describes the challenges associated with the realignment or how to resolve them, time frames, resources, performance measures and accountability structures, according to written testimony from Valerie Melvin, GAO’s director of information management and technology resources issues. Melvin spoke on the issue at a House subcommittee hearing last week.
 
SSA also failed to analyze what roles and responsibilities were needed to support the new changes, Melvin said in her testimony.
 
She said the new structure should provide effective oversight and management of SSA’s systems and modernization if implemented properly, but it “cannot be determined whether the reassignment of staff that occurred as a result of the realignment represents an optimal allocation of resources.”

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What a CIO expects from new employees

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Industry and government information technology executives want more from their new employees.

Chief information officers are looking for workers with business skills and an understanding of cloud computing, social media, analytics and other emerging technology, according to research conducted by market intelligence firm International Data Corp.

CIOs are concerned about a lack of IT talent to manage their next generation systems, said David McNally, an IT executive adviser at IDC.

The data was extracted from IDC’s CIO Agenda Survey conducted last month and presented during a webinar on Tuesday. Of the 63 CIOs surveyed, 43 percent said new IT workers will primarily have business skills over technical skills and serve as “agents of innovation.” As IT shifts from a model of owning hardware and software to delivering IT services via the Internet, organizations need tech-savvy workers who can explain how IT improves the organization’s overall mission and have an understanding of issues like financial and supply chain management.

In September, the federal Chief Information Officers Council launched the Technology Fellows Program to recruit top graduate students for federal IT positions. When the program launched, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said it will “break down some of the bureaucratic barriers that slow hiring.” Program finalists have not been announced.

Hiring isn’t the only issue CIOs will face this year.

They will have a greater challenge managing the flow of information to employees as they become more mobile, said Meredith Whalen senior vice president of insights and vertical markets research at IDC. CIOs must be able to provide mobile workers with access to new and legacy applications while maintaining security, she said.

IDC predicts that CIOs will make “significant progress” in addressing the issue of employees bringing personal devices to work.

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Shrinking budgets among CIOs’ top concerns, survey finds

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Inadequate budgets, conflicting priorities among program units and little time for strategic planning are among the top barriers to federal chief information officers increasing their effectiveness, according to a TechAmerica survey released Wednesday.

The annual survey, conducted by Grant Thornton, includes interview responses from 46 CIOs and their deputies, congressional staff and other government officials.

CIOs at the General Services Administration, Social Security Administration and the Veteran Affairs Department were among the participants.

In the face of shrinking budgets, lowering costs, integrating systems and processes and addressing security and privacy concerns ranked as CIOs’ top budget priorities. One CIO recommended having a central IT appropriations board to reduce duplications and wasteful spending throughout government. Improvements to program management ranked fourth out of seven rankings.

Interviews were conducted between January and April, prior to agencies receiving a 2011 budget. More than 50 percent expected their current budgets and 2012 budgets to decrease or remain flat, according to the survey. Most do not expect to increase their federal and contractor workforce, with the exception of inherently governmental jobs in program and project management, IT security and enterprise architecture.

Other findings include:

- Many CIOs think the exhibit 300 (business case for IT investments) and exhibit 53 processes, which reports IT investment portfolio to the Office of Management and Budget, are outdated.

- CIOs want a clear sense of what should drive the release of specific types of government data and clear up questions arising from recent security breaches such as WikiLeaks.

- CIOs have mixed feelings about their role in the IT investment process – they rarely control all of it and sometimes only a small part.

-Most CIOs think becoming a certified project management professional is a plus to a government IT career.

- About seven of 10 CIOs have active or pilot cloud projects. Their main concern is cybersecurity, so they are looking to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) as a source of solutions.

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GPO names IT leader

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Charles Riddle, chief information officer at the Government Printing Office (photo by GPO).

The Government Printing Office has named Charles Riddle its new chief information officer.

Riddle, former chief technology officer at the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Inspection Service, said he looks forward to ensuring GPO provides Congress, agencies and the public with the latest technological tools.

As CIO, he will oversee IT policies and standards and develop operating budgets for network systems.

GPO’s former CIO, Mike Wash, now oversees IT operations at the National Archives and Records Administration and was credited with launching the Federal Digital System, according to article that ran in the Washington Post. The system allows GPO to receive and publish information from agencies electronically, and  users can then search for it online.

 

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NASA CTOs open to ‘bring your own device’

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There were mixed feelings last month when the federal chief information officer proposed giving federal workers a $2,000 subsidy to buy their own laptops and smartphones.

Some balked at the idea and raised concerns that security would be at stake. But federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s proposal isn’t exactly far-fetched.

When NASA asked several of its chief technology officers where NASA technology is headed over the next five years, mobile computing took center stage.

James McClellan, CTO at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said “I don’t think it’s much of a leap to say that 5 years from now the average NASA employee will be using a mobile computing platform that is essentially a nice display with a browser connected to all their content and social connections through the ubiquitous ‘cloud.’”

McClellan added that “employees may even be supplying their own preferred device (Bring Your Own Device-BYOD), enabled by the ability for NASA applications to be securely used on even a personal device via mobile app management profiles.”

Kundra has made it clear, the marriage of mobile applications and mobile environments will be “hardwired in the DNA of any new system that’s actually developed.”

At NASA, the use of smartphone technology skyrocketed from 5,300 connected devices in January 2010 to 11,300 the same time this year. In NASA’s monthly publication from the Office of the CIO, agency managers had this to say about mobile computing:

Mobile device management technology will continue to improve, enabling NASA to secure, monitor, and manage corporate data on both Government-issued and employee owned devices. Tablets will continue to gain acceptance in NASA with increased vendor diversity, though Apple will remain the leader.

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Executives use video project to coach younger feds

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Federal executives from across government are reaching out to younger feds through an online video project launched this week by Fedscoop.

Chief information and technology officers from the Veteran Affairs, Justice and Agriculture departments are among the IT executives who will appear weekly on fedscoop.com/fedmentors in a series of one to two-minute videos. In the video interviews, executives offer career advice, insight about their first government jobs and updates on their current work.

This week’s featured mentor is Dave McClure, associate administrator for the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies.

McClure said among his office’s top priorities are expanding mobile interaction with the public and exploring greater use of cloud computing within the federal government. Integrating web, mobile and print platforms is also a priority.

Fedscoop’s online project will run through the end of the year and is designed to prepare and mentor the next generation of federal employees.

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Takai named DoD CIO

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One unknown at the Pentagon has finally been answered.

Teri Takai, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the Defense Department’s chief information officer, will finally assume her new role on Nov. 7, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday. 

“The new CIO position will be central to these efforts as the DoD continues to transform its IT capabilities to meet the enormous mission critical needs of the U.S. military,” according to a DoD news release

There was some uncertainty about Takai filling the position after her nomination hearing, set for Aug. 3, was canceled.

Under Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ cost-saving plan, it’s unclear whether the CIO position or its functions will move with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to Fort Meade, Md.

Gates has said the reorganization plan will strengthen the role of the CIO, but how that will play out is yet to be seen.


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Updated: AP reports federal CIO on leave

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Update 2: The Associated Press is reporting that Federal CIO Vivek Kundra is on leave “until further details of the case become known” following the raid of his former office this morning.

While the raid was going on Kundra spoke at an IT conference today. He set out bold plans for reforming federal IT by opening up more information to the public for review and feedback.

During today’s White House press briefing, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to comment on the investigation into Kundra’s old office.

Stay tuned.

Update 1: The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia released some court documents related to today’s raid at the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

The documents accuse D.C. employee, Yusuf Acar of conspiring with a contractor, Sushil Bansal, to steal from city taxpayers. Both Bansal, president of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corporation, and Acar were arrested today.

According to the documents, Acar, acting chief security officer for the D.C. government, allegedly approved work orders for products and services from Bansal’s company that were in excess of what the city actually received. The difference between the actual cost to Bansal’s company and what the D.C. government paid was split by the two defendants, according to the documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Until February, the office where Acar worked was led by the new Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra. Kundra is not mentioned in the court documents and sources said he is not under investigation.

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Transition Watch: Obama Names Vivek Kundra Government's Chief Information Officer

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After weeks of speculation, it’s official. The White House announced today that Vivek Kundra will be the government’s chief information officer.

Kundra has served as the chief technology officer for Washington, D.C. since 2007. In his new role, he will direct governmentwide information technology investments, policy and spending oversight.  When a governmentwide chief technology officer is named, they will work together to advance the president’s technology agenda.

We’ll have more for you following a news conference with Kundra later today.

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