Message from Steve Galvan

A Course of Action, Steps for the CIO to Generate Momentum – An Execution Roadmap

As the Biden administration continues to develop its priorities, including the continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the CIO’s leadership and actions to enable modernization can lead to early successes and deliver impactful and transformative results.

CIOs and their deputies can undertake concrete steps that will create an “execution momentum”. During this critical period the CIO should take key steps to ensure that information technology modernization is planned properly, is socialized, and is viewed as an essential element for an agency to deliver on its agenda to carry-out the administration’s policy and priorities.

The 14 steps below are extracted from one of our articles on the role of the CIO to gain momentum to digitally modernize their agencies and address the most pressing challenges.

  1. Conduct an objective review of the current situation which builds upon any feedback from prior internal reviews, the OIG, the GAO and Congress. Other internal data driven reviews such as by program PMOs may offer additional views. This view must also take into account perspectives to carry-out presidential priorities, mandates and modernization plans that bring in technologies that transform the agency.
  2. Refocus of the overall IT vision with prioritized action items based on the CIO modernization roadmap with a primary focus of providing leadership over governance and peer communication and outreach to stakeholders.
  3. Develop a personal working relationship with the front-office, including the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, their advisors and the program offices. This will garner support for the IT vision and strategy.
  4. Meet personally with OMB examiner, OMB statutory staff, its’ Digital Services group and OMB leadership to begin discussing the new IT vision and plans. Over time, these outreach meetings will communicate accomplishments and successes.
  5. Meet personally with key House Members and Senators as appropriate, along with their appropriations and oversight committee staff. A CIO should work with the agency’s Legislative Affairs office to identify the best Members or their staffs to request meetings with. Many of those may not be immediately supportive but could eventually support the new IT vision through outreach and communicating agency priorities and successes.
  6. Review any IT and agency dashboards to determine if they are measuring relevant metrics. Direct any changes to the dashboards to have them conform with the new IT objectives.
  7. Review processes and deadlines to ensure that all documents are well prepared and with enough time to be in proper form and easy to be approved through the budget process.
  8. Demonstrate leadership over technology for transformation enablement. The new CIO vision should answer the following questions. Which technologies would best serve the agency’s mission and program performance? Is the funding compliant with OMB requirements? Are the portfolio reviews working and adequately enforced? Are the agency’s IT goals aligned with federal-wide IT goals?
  9. Review if the Governance processes Enterprise Architecture, and System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), are robust enough for initiatives such as; digital modernization, Agile, Shared Services, Cybersecurity and other practices.
  10. Look to Shared Services and the cloud to lower costs, implement rapidly and scale. Agencies across the government are cooperating to consolidate duplicative functions and other documented benefits through shared service providers.
  11. Use Analytics to help programs be more effective and save the taxpayers money. For example, analytics are key to evidence-based policy making by enhancing data-driven program review as well as developing insights and enabling controls to reduce fraud.
  12. Sponsor innovative technologies that could help with enterprise risk management and improve performance. Robotic Process Automation will be key to streamline and improve service, artificial intelligence will require a data strategy to acquire and manage data that can transform services in an unprecedented scale.
  13. Determine the agency’s Digital Readiness to change its IT Governance perspective and the effect on the agency’s transformation. This can be in terms of a study of an organization’s perception of IT’s role and its workforce’s ability to deliver.
  14. With quick wins, increased funding levels should be better justified. Start an identification of the hidden IT budget (from program transfers). It allows a CIO to argue that this “hidden” IT budget can be better overseen and managed by the OCIO as a better investment when formally appropriated and consistent with the intent of the statutory authorities of IT funding.

In conclusion, while no prescribed steps can ensure success, a well-informed enterprise approach with a strong execution orientation will lead to success.

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