While the IC’s research organization looks into adding security to cloud environments, in the here and now, intelligence agencies are sharing more data.
The chief technology officer has been a stealth player in the government IT arena for the past few years, in every cabinet department and in many independent agencies as well. But with the arrival of a CIO in the White House — to be followed shortly by a CTO — these innovation seekers are getting unheralded exposure.
So what exactly should an agency CTO do? A panel of feds at the recent IPIC 2009 conference in Orlando, Fla., suggest some best practices.
FBI CTO Jerome “Jack” Israel describes the job as one of the least understood in government and says he has spent the past four years at the bureau defining it. The CTO needs to be a trusted adviser to the CIO and help push the agency’s use of technology forward, he says.
In government, CTOs are mostly responsible for technology in IT, not technology broadly. “The CTO should be the person in the agency who is leading innovation” and recommending technologies that will address the agency’s mission and improve its capability, Israel says.
At the Homeland Security Department, the CTO acts as the chief data officer, says DHS CTO Daniel Cotter, who points to unearthing technologies that will create a secure environment with access controls to support true data independence as his top priority.
These roles mesh well with the management notions that President Obama has put forth for technology use in government. When he announced that District of Columbia CTO Vivek Kundra would become the federal CIO, Obama said: “I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As CIO, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open and efficient way possible.”
Although an administration CTO is still to be named, Kundra and the CTO are expected to work closely together on pursuing the White House’s technology agenda.
The panel at IPIC offered five ways that federal CTOs should tackle their assignments: