[ISN] A chief who lacks clout
isn at c4i.org
Tue Oct 26 02:43:11 EDT 2004
By Paul Roberts
IDG News Service
Steven Cooper, the first CIO of the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, is responsible for the IT assets used by 190,000 federal
employees, but he's in a position that doesn't wield a lot of power.
In fact, a July 2004 report from the DHS Office of the Inspector
General found that the CIO lacks the authority to manage the
department's technology assets and programs.
The report, titled "Improvements Needed to DHS's Information
Technology Management Structure," says the CIO is responsible for the
creation of the department's communications infrastructure -
consolidating disparate networks, data centers and systems inherited
from member agencies. He oversees eight of the top 25 IT projects
being implemented by civilian federal agencies, including the
controversial US-VISIT visa program and the Integrated Wireless
Network project that involves the Departments of Justice, Treasury and
Homeland Security. (Then there's the matter of IT security: A 2003
Inspector General report found that none of DHS's constituent parts
had fully functioning IT security programs.)
Despite these challenges, Cooper's office has been allotted limited
resources - fewer than 65 employees to support a 180,000-person
department. CIOs for member organizations within DHS have larger
staffs than that.
To make matters worse, the report noted that the CIO doesn't report to
either the DHS secretary or deputy secretary, but to the
undersecretary of management. That means the CIO has no authority over
the CIOs for DHS member organizations, whom he is charged with
overseeing. Furthermore, there is no written policy to formalize the
DHS CIO's role toward CIOs of member organizations.
But there's always a positive side. The report noted the creation of
an Enterprise Infrastructure Board, which meets periodically to
discuss IT integration strategies. And Cooper published an enterprise
architecture and implementation plan.
Still, changes are needed. OIG recommended that the CIO report to the
DHS also needs to make it clear that CIOs in DHS member agencies
report to Cooper's office along with the head of their agencies. And
the DHS CIO should be given a staff that can carry out its enormous
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