CIO Briefing


You Don’t Have to Know How to Code to Make it Big in Tech

By Karen Wickre // Quartz // March 4, 2015

Mark Lennihan/AP

I’m in my 60s. I don’t code. In college exams, I was one of those high-verbal, low-math scorers. So I might not seem like an obvious person to be giving advice on getting into tech. Yet in the last year alone I’ve had more than 50 meetings with people who want my guidance on how to do it.

Many of these coffee dates have been with individuals in more traditional jobs who think they want to work at Twitter or Google, the two companies where I’ve spent the last 15 years. Journalists and editors, too, approach me in large number. So do numerous over-40 types who wonder how to move into the tech world, famous (or infamous) for its orientation to a younger crowd. And some advice-seekers have been bright-eyed new grads, typically with social science or liberal arts backgrounds, pinning their hopes on getting into the storied Bay Area tech scene in some capacity or other.

Sure, I’m interested in coffee. But I think one big reason I’m sought after for these conversations is that despite my liberal arts background, I’ve lasted in the tech world for 30 years. If I can ...

Feds Say They Finally Have a Database of Every Cyber Job in Government

By Jack Moore // March 3, 2015


The federal government is finally getting a sense of the size, shape and skills of its cybersecurity workforce.

“Preliminary analysis” of a new database of all cyber jobs governmentwide, which went live in January, indicates employees doing cybersecurity work hail from more than 100 different job categories scattered across agencies.

In other words, it just might take a village to do cybersecurity in the federal government.

The new information about the cyber database comes from a Feb. 27 report to Congress from the White House on the implementation of the 2002 E-Government Act.

The report did not provide specifics on the total size of the federal cyber workforce. It’s also unclear if the cyber database, which is hosted by the Office of Personnel Management, will be open to public view. It’s not readily visible on OPM’s website, and an agency spokesman did not immediately respond to Nextgov’s request for more information.  

The Obama administration has pushed agencies over the past two years or so to tally up the total number of employees engaged in cybersecurity work to “assist and inform federal decision-makers in their efforts to improve and strategically target their employment and career development programs ...

Silicon Valley's Best and Worst Jobs for New Moms and Dads

By Rebecca Grant // The Atlantic // March 3, 2015

Edyta Pawlowska/

The tech industry has a reputation for being both a wonderland of employee benefits and a place that is unfriendly to families, particularly mothers. Along with the weekly massages, travel stipends, unlimited organic snacks, and casino-themed happy hours are stories of women who are stigmatized and punished for having children, overworked employees who feel they will never be able to balance family and a career, and entrepreneurs who are told by their advisors not to hire women of childbearing age. The dichotomy is stark and puzzling.

The U.S. is one of only four countries in the world—along with Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Papua New Guinea—that does not guarantee the right to paid maternity leave. While a few states offer taxpayer-funded family and medical leave, and while President Obama is pushing for a national paid parental-leave policy, the responsibility of creating these policies remains at the discretion of each employer.

Supportive parental-leave policies are a critical part of keeping women in the workforce and in leadership positions. Considering that women today hold less than 20 percent of leadership positions in corporate America, according to a 2015 report by Colorado Women’s College, and just 5 percent of CEOs ...

Infographic: Telework Savings Across the Country

By Caitlin Fairchild // February 26, 2015


As more federal agencies allow telework, government employees are discovering the time and money saved in avoiding a commute to the office.

Nationally, the average amount of money saved is more than $10,000 per person.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the large contingent of federal employees in the Washington, D.C., area, WalletHub's "telework savings calculator" estimates D.C.-area employees can lay claim to most telework savings -- about $14,200 annually.

Find out how much you could save using the calculator, and find out how your state stacks up in the infographic below: 

(Image via  /

The Federal Government’s Technology Problem is Actually a Design Problem

By Hallie Golden // February 25, 2015


The biggest problem with government technology may not actually be technology; a more likely culprit is the design part of the digital equation. 

That's what civic designer Dana Chisnell said Feb. 24 during a keynote at the Arlington Economic Development and ACT-IAC's GoodGovUx event in Arlington, Virginia.

Chisnell, a consultant for the U.S. Digital Service, said she feels like a time traveler when she goes to work for the federal government. And it’s not the good kind of technological time traveling.

“I step through the door at our county office, or city hall, or at Jackson Place, and the light changes,” Chisnell said. “It's like going from Oz to Kansas, instead of the other way around.”

Thinking about design in the federal government, overall, is at least a decade behind the private sector, she said. 

Too often, federal IT reformers focus on simply updating technology underpinning federal systems. Even President Barack Obama is guilty of this type of thinking, she said. He “has sold the digital service as delivering smarter IT . . . I wish he would stop doing that,” Chisnell said.

Although Chisnell said she has seen some disappointingly old technology during her fieldwork — including one ...