As Christopher Dorobek notes in this month's Incoming column, the role for federal CIOs is changing. There's been a lot of conversation about culture needing to change to get out of this "two-point-NO" mindset that many CIOs have. Our question for you is how does that change happen? How can we shape the culture so that government IT leaders can say "yes" to technology more often?
For federal chief information officers (CIOs), it is the best of times and the worst of times. The broader, less literary question is: Do CIOs matter?
Dorobek makes an excellent point when he says that e-mail really did revolutionize the way we communicate, but hasn't done much toward the effort to collaborate. But since we've gotten in the habit of using e-mail to collaborate, for lack of better tools in the '90s, we're still using e-mail to collaborate even though better tools are out there.
Many of us remember when we first got an e-mail account. If you were anything like me, you received a personal e-mail address and then later an AOL account—well before you had e-mail access at work. In a way, it was a very early indication of the world to come, where the consumer market truly leads the enterprise market. Today, most people will admit that they can do much more on their home computers than they can on their “clunky machines” at work.
... And Incoming author Christopher Dorobek would like you to know why in his May column. It's more than a buzzword, he writes: "No person can overestimate the complexities involved in implementing government transparency. It is a dramatic shift in the way we think about information, particularly in government."
It currently is difficult to make it through a day in government circles without somebody talking about transparency. It was an ongoing theme in then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and it was conspicuously the first executive order signed by President Obama on January 21. But the word is something akin to a Rorschach test—everybody sees transparency very differently. Each person has very different ways of defining what transparency means and how it can be implemented.
I know it seems like an almost silly question, but go ahead—just try to make it through the day without using the ubiquitous search engine. Or, even try to make it through the day without using it in speech—“Googling something.” My guess is it would be fairly difficult. Google has become the way to find information. But it also is arguably the fastest growing company in the world. Are there lessons that government can learn from the search giant?
Christopher Dorobek, writing in this month's Incoming column, addresses a major question for public managers: Just what is the best way to manage in the public sector? During the 1990s, many government agencies were trying valiantly to put performance standards into place, and took many cues from the private sector. But as Dorobek notes in Ending Government's Private-Sector Envy, government is very different from private industry.
Some government phrases should be retired. By far, the most destructive is, “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.” Those words have sapped the life out of more innovative ideas, change and evolution than perhaps any others. But right behind that idea is the concept that the private sector does everything right and the public sector ... well ... does not.
With all the headlines about honest mistakes of late, it bears remembering that not all mistakes are bad, writes Christopher Dorobek in his newest Incoming column, "Government Needs to Find Balance in Oversight". Noting the government trend toward accountability, Dorobek questions whether accountability itself should be the mission of government. Too much oversight, he cautions, may stifle the very thing agencies need most to best accomplish their missions.
It has become a truism that the federal government is awash with waste, fraud and abuse. Over the years, that widely held belief has spurred the creation of an entire oversight industry. This includes the inspectors general, the so-called good-government groups, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and, of course, the news media.
Chris Dorobek, writing in this month's Incoming column, notes several examples of successful Gov 2.0 implementation in various agencies. He writes that the impending change in Washington's scenery and political tides may not be as nebulous as the rhetorical cry for "change" might imply:
Each inauguration brings about change. But this year, there is an almost palpable feeling that it is a time of change. For more than a year, the mantra on the presidential campaign has been change.
SIGNAL Editor in Chief Robert K. Ackerman puts some perspective on the Incoming column in this month's "Behind the Lines":
January weather in Washington may be dark and dreary, but every four years, the city on the Potomac is filled with the hope and optimism that comes with another inauguration. This isn’t political; it is the sense of renewal. Thousands of new—or somewhat new—faces will come to town. But a certain amount of trepidation also comes with the unknown, particularly for career public servants who have to prove their value.
Over the last two years, we have been inundated with bad news about the state of cybersecurity. The list of concerns is growing and endless: rampant cybercrime, increasing identity theft, sophisticated social engineering techniques, relentless intrusions into government networks, and widespread vulnerabilities continuously exploited by a variety of entities ranging from criminal organizations and entrepreneurial hackers to well-resourced espionage actors. We also are facing the implications of cyberwarfare in light of last year’s cyber attacks against Estonia. In a recent speech on cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned, “We’ve entered an era of new threats and vulnerabilities,” and the consequences of failure are exponentially greater.
"Significant change" is needed in how organizations approach questions of efficiency and effectiveness, writes Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) in this month's Incoming column, Change Is a Requisite for the Future of Network-Centric Operations.
Network-centric operations can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any business operation. By employing the power of net centricity, the government, businesses and personal lives can be improved significantly. But, as with any endeavor, we must adopt new approaches even for network-centric operations.
Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) posits some interesting questions in this month's incoming columns. Looking at the nature of enterprise risk, he wonders whether any of our readers have ever been notified that their personal data had been exposed:
I have ... and it is not a comforting feeling. It also makes you immediately question the care and practices of the organizations that solicited your trust in safeguarding your private information.
Have you ever received notification from a government or industry office that your personal information may have been compromised or lost? I have—on both counts—and it is not a comforting feeling. It also makes you immediately question the care and practices of the organizations that solicited your trust in safeguarding your private information.
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) poses questions about the nature of CIO positions-their lack of a typical specific qualification list or consistent job description, the trend in CIOs working on management degrees, their lack of strategic decision-making authority.