What Do CIOs Do Again?

Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com

The job is increasingly about business, federal CIOs say.

Chief information officers within and outside government increasingly have to bridge the worlds of business and technology, a trend that will only continue upward, according to federal CIOs.

“The fundamental role of government is changing,” General Services Administration CIO Sonny Hashmi said this week at a breakfast hosted by AFCEA Bethesda.  

“The expectations that citizens have of the government are changing,” he continued. “As the agency, company or corporation evolves to meet this new generation of people who expect online, real-time, instant gratification… the CIO role has to adapt to that.”

Hashmi predicted that in five years, about 80 percent of a typical CIO’s job will focus on business.

“All these external factors are driving agencies to rethink how they’re wanting to work,” he said. “Because of that, CIOs of the future have to be more business technology oriented than information technology oriented.”

As this shift occurs, the budget is likely to both constrain and fuel it.

Interior CIO Sylvia Burns attributed the success of her agency’s migration to an enterprisewide cloud-based email system in part to a shrunken budget. “Had money been flush in IT, I don’t know that it would have gotten done,” she said.

The panel of CIOs discussed the new U.S. Digital Service’s guide to buying technology under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.  

“Yes, the FAR needs to modernize. The FAR is not perfect,” Hashmi said. “But if you want to do agile development, you can absolutely do that with the FAR. The problem is the average contracting officer doesn’t know how.”

If the Digital Service's efforts are successful, that could change. 

(Image via Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com)