Showing posts with label Chief Technology Officer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chief Technology Officer. Show all posts

January 8, 2012

Videos of Enterprise Architecture Panel with Andy Blumenthal

Digital Government Institute (DGI) and FEAC Institute EA Conference and Symposium (May 2011)

Panel: “Former Architects, Now CXO’s Townhall”

Participants: Andy Blumenthal (right), Darren Ash (left), and Randy Hite (Moderator)


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June 16, 2011

New Beginnings

Next week I am excited to begin a new journey as a Division Chief at the U.S. Department of State.

I just wanted to take a minute to thank the ATF for the opportunity to serve there as the Chief Technology Officer these last few years.

There are no finer or more dedicated law enforcement agents than those that work for our federal government, and I am so proud that the ATF chose me to support their vital mission of protecting our country.

I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to have worked and learned with such talented and dedicated professionals in the Office of Science and Technology.

Some people have asked me to comment on my tenure from the perspective of what's going on in the news. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to do that, but I do want to recognize and thank people for caring so passionately about our great country.

It's a new chapter in my life and I'm ready to roll up my sleeves, learn, and contribute as well.

I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity--ready, set, go!

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February 10, 2009

Reflections On The Role of a Federal Chief Technology Officer

Had interview today with Federal News Radio on the role of the Chief Technology Officer.

Here are some key points:

1. The CTO is a subject matter expert on technology modernization, transformation and deployment of new technology in the agency.

2. The CTO is responsible to work with the lines of business and IT to ensure that technology is meeting the needs of customers, that enterprise architecture and governance are in place, and that agency is incorporating best practices from all sources into technology operations.

3. The CIO's focus is on the business while that of the CTO is technology. Everything the CTO does is to support the CIO to operationalize his or her decisions and those of the senior leadership team. The CTO also serves as principal advisor to the CIO on IT management best practices, so that these get incorporated into the decision process.

4. A federal CTO would be a positive development because it will give a more prominent voice to the nation’s technology needs.

If there had been more time I would have added that in my view, the most important issue for a federal CTO is to address the need to raise the technology competitiveness of the United States. Technology is our future and we need to be number one.
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January 2, 2009

It Time to Stop the Negativity and Move towards Constructive Change

Recently, there was an article in Nextgov (http://techinsider.nextgov.com/2008/12/the_industry_advisory_council.php) about the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), a well respected industry-government consortium under the Auspices of the American Council for Technology, that recommended to the incoming Obama Administration the standup of an innovation agency under the auspices of the new Chief Technology Officer.
The Government Innovation Agency “would serve as an incubator for new ideas, serve as a central repository for best practices and incorporate an innovation review in every project. As we envision it, the Government Innovation Agency would house Centers of Excellence that would focus on ways to achieve performance breakthroughs and leverage technology to improve decision making, institute good business practices and improve problem solving by government employees.:”
While I am a big proponent for innovation and leveraging best practices, what was interesting to me was not so much the proposal from IAC (which I am not advocating for by the way), so much as one of the blistering comments posted anonymously from one of the readers, under the pseudonym “concerned retiree,” which I am posting in its entirety as follows:
“Hmmmmm...."innovation"..."central repository of new ideas"......can this be just empty news release jargon? Just more slow-news day, free-range clich├ęs scampering into the daily news hole?.. .or perhaps this item is simply a small sized news item without the required room to wisely explicate on the real life banalities of the government sponsored “innovation” world...such as: 1)patent problems - is the US going to be soaking up, or handing out patent worthy goodies via the "innovation" czar or czarina? Attention patent attorneys, gravy train a comin’ 2)"leverage technology to improve decision making" – wow! a phrase foretelling a boon-doggle bonanza, especially since it’s wonderfully undefined and thereby, prompting generous seed money to explore it’s vast potential (less just fund it at say, $20-30 million?); 3) the "Government Innovation Agency" - -well now, just how can we integrate this new member to the current herd of government “innovation” cows, including: A) a the Dod labs, like say the Naval Research Lab, or the Dept of Commerce lab that produced the Nobel prize winner (oh, I see now, the proposal would be for “computer” type innovation pursuits – oh, how wise, like the health research lobbyists, we’re now about slicing “innovation” and/or research to match our vendor supplier concerns, how scientific!, how MBAishly wise); B) existing labs in private industry (e.g. former Bell Labs. GM-Detroit area "labs"/innovation groups), C) university labs – currently watered by all manner of Uncle Sam dollars via the great roiling ocean of research grants. Finally - given the current Wall Street melt-down and general skepticism for American business nimbleness (this too will pass, of course) -- what's the deal with all the Harvard Grad School-type hyper-ventilation on the bubbling creativity (destructive or otherwise) of American capitalism - -surely the GAO/Commerce/SEC could pop out some stats on the progressive deterioration of expenditures -- capital and otherwise--on "innovation". Or perhaps the sponsors of the "Government Innovation Agency" - will be happy to explain at the authorization hearing - how all the dough to date spent to date on development of the green automobile has yet to put a consumer friendly one on the road from a US corp -- a fact that argues either for a vast expansion of the GIA, or, the merciful euthenasiaing of this dotty idea. See you all at the authorizing hearing?”
What’s so disheartening about this retiree’s comments?
It’s not that there is not some truth intermixed with the blistering comments, but it is the sheer magnitude of the cynicism, bitterness, negativity, resistance to ”new” (or at times reformulated) ideas, and “been-there-done-that” attitude that unfairly provides a bad name to other government workers who are smart, innovative, positive, and hard-charging and want to continuously improve effectiveness and efficiency of government for the benefit of the nation and to serve our citizens.
Sure, we need to listen and learn from those that preceded us--those with age, experience, expertise, and certainly vast amounts of wisdom. And yes, those of us who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat it. So we must be mindful to be respectful, collaborative, inclusive, and careful to vet new ideas and changes.
However, those that have served before or have been serving a long time now should also give hope, innovation, change (not for change’s sake, but based on genuine learning and growth) and continuous improvement a chance.
It is always easier to be a naysayer, a doomsday prognosticator, and to tear down and destroy. It is much, much harder to be positive, hopeful, and constructive—to seek to build a brighter future rather than rest on the laurels of the past.
Unfortunately, many people have been hurt by past mistakes, false leaders, broken promises, and dashed hopes, so they become resistant to change, in addition to, of course, fearing change.
Those of us in information technology and other fields (like science, engineering, product design and development, and so many others—in fact all of us can make a difference) need to be stay strong amidst the harsh rhetoric of negativity and pessimism, and instead continue to strive for a better tomorrow.

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December 13, 2008

Coming Soon: A Federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

What is the role of the Federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO) that we are anxiously awaiting to be announced soon in the President-elect Obama administration?

There are some interesting insights in Federal Computer Week, 8 December 2008.

CHANGE: Norman Lorenz, the first CTO for OMB, sees the role of the Federal CTO as primarily a change agent, so much so that the title should be the federal chief transformation officer.

TEAMWORK: Jim Flyzik, the Former CIO of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and one of my former bosses, sees the CTO role as one who inspires teamwork across the federal IT community, and who can adeptly use the Federal CIO Council and other CXO councils to get things done—in managing the large, complex government IT complex.

VISION: Kim Nelson, the former CIO of the Environmental Protection Agency says it’s all about vision to ensure that agencies “have the right infrastructure, policies, and services for the 21st century and ensure they use best-in-class technologies.”

ARCHITECTURE: French Caldwell, a VP at Gartner, says the CTO must “try to put some cohesion and common [enterprise] architecture around the IT investment of federal agencies.”

SECURITY: Dan Tynan, of “Culture Clash” blog at Computerworld’s website said the federal CTO should create a more secure IT infrastructure for government.

CITIZENS: Don Tapscott, author of “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything,” seems to focus on the citizens in terms of ensuring access to information and services, conditions for a vibrant technology industry, and generally fostering collaboration and transformation of government and democracy.

This is great stuff and I agree with these.

I would add that the following four:

INNOVATION: The Federal CTO should promote and inspire innovation for better, faster, and cheaper ways of conducting government business and serving the citizens of this country.

STRATEGY: The Federal CTO should develop a strategy with clear IT goals and objectives for the federal government IT community to unite around, manage to, and measure performance against. We need to all be working off the same sheet of music, and it should acknowledge both commonalities across government as well as unique mission needs.

STRUCTURE: The Federal CTO should provide efficient policies and processes that will enable structured and sound ways for agencies to make IT investments, prioritize projects, and promote enterprise and common solutions.

OUTREACH; The Federal CTO is the face of Federal IT to not only citizens, but also state, local, and tribal governments, international forums, and to the business community at large. He/she should identify stakeholder requirements for federal IT and align them to the best technical solutions that are not bound by geographical, political, social, economic, or other boundaries.

The Federal CTO is a position of immense opportunity with the enormous potential to drive superior mission performance using management and IT best practices and advanced and emerging technologies, breaking down agency and functional silos in order to build a truly citizen-centric, technology-enabled government in the service to citizen and country.


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August 30, 2008

A Federal CIO / CTO

Should the U.S. federal government have a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and/or a Chief Technology Officer?

“The chief information officer (CIO) is a job title for the board level head of information technology within an organization. The CIO typically reports to the chief executive officer.”

“A chief technology officer (CTO) is an executive position whose holder is focused on scientific and technical issues within an organization.”

“In some companies, the CTO is just like a CIO. In still others, the CIO reports to the CTO. And there are also CTOs who work in IT departments and report to the CIO. In such a situation where CTO reports to the CIO, the CTO often handles the most technical details of the IT products and their implementation. Despite the diversity of approaches to the CTO role, this IT department executive is increasingly becoming the organization’s senior technologist, responsible for overseeing current technology assets, and more important, for developing a technology vision for the business.” (Wikipedia)

For the purpose of this blog, I will use the terms synonymously.

In the federal government today, we do not actually have a federal CIO or CTO. The closest thing we do have to it is the Administrator for the Office of E-Government and Information Technology in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Within that office, we also have a chief architect.

MIT Technology Review, September/October 2008 has an interview by Kate Greene with Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus, founding chair of Mozilla, and a board member of Linden Research who advocates for a federal CTO.

Here’s why Kapor thinks we need a federal CTO:

The government needs cohesive technology practices and policies…tech is intertwined with virtually everything. You can’t talk about homeland security or education or energy without it being in large part a conversation about technology. The president will be well served if policy making is done in a more technologically sophisticated way.”

What are some policies the federal CTO would champion?

  • Ubiquitous and affordable broadband deployment
  • Tech policies that stimulate innovation in the economy are very important, because innovation is the engine of growth.”
  • Net neutrality is also a huge issue in ensuring the Internet isn’t controlled by the people who own the wires, because that us just going to impede innovation.”

While I believe that this is a good start, there are so many other areas that could benefit, such as—

  • Information sharing and data quality
  • Interoperability and component reuse
  • Standardization and simplification of our infrastructure
  • Beefing up our IT security
  • linking resources to results (i.e. driving performance outcomes and having our business and mission drive technology rather than doing technology for technology’s sake)
  • And of course, overall enterprise architecture planning and IT governance.

Overall, Kapor says “The advantage of a CTO is that there can be coordination. There’s a ton of work that goes on within different agencies: there needs to be someone to identify the best ways of doing things and some common practices.”

In the federal government, we do have the federal CIO Council to help coordinate and identify best practices, but the role that Kapor envisions is more of a visionary, leadership role that will truly drive the technology of our government and “lead by influence and not by command.”

As we enter the last few months before the presidential election of 2008, perhaps it is a good time to think not only about the next Commander In Chief, but also about the leadership role(s) of tomorrow—such as a federal CIO/CTO—that will be necessary for maintaining and solidifying our nation’s technological superiority for now and the future.


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