New CIO Wants Fresh Pair of Eyes to Look at Federal IT Problems

Maksim Kabakou/

The IT Solutions Challenge will consist of several working groups of "rising stars" from the IT world tasked with zeroing in on tech issues in the federal government.

If there’s one group of people who might know what ails federal information technology, surely it’s the front-line staff, who are often left holding the bag when big projects things go south.

At least what’s Tony Scott, the new federal chief information officer, and members of the CIO Council are banking on.

In a blog post published March 4, Scott introduced the launch of the “IT Solutions Challenge,” which will consist of several working groups of “rising stars” from the IT world tasked with zeroing in on systemic tech issues in the federal government and working in quick sprints -- over the course of just six months -- to come up with solutions.

“The goal is to tap into the hands-on experiences of front lines and find innovative solutions based on their fresh perspectives,” Scott said.

The effort is being staffed with IT and acquisition experts at the mid- to upper ranges of the federal pay scale (GS-9 through GS-13), who have been nominated by the CIO Council’s workforce committee and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council.

“We are focusing on these rising stars because looking at problems from a new vantage point will allow important issues to surface that may not have been realized otherwise,” Scott said in the blog.

The teams will present their proposed solutions in the fall and work with IT leaders “to discuss next steps on implementing these solutions across the federal government,” he added.

The challenge is one of the first initiatives announced by Scott since President Barack Obama appointed the former VMware and Microsoft exec the federal CIO last month.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office added IT acquisition and management to its list of “high-risk” federal programs, citing frequent cost overruns, schedule slippages and billions wasted on botched projects.

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