Post-pandemic IT leadership – FCW


FCW Outlook

Post-pandemic IT leadership

Since at least the time of Clinger-Cohen, efforts have been made to ensure that IT managers “have a place at the table” – to be full partners in an agency’s business and strategy, rather than to serve as technical support once decisions have been made. . And nearly 18 months of extended COVID operations have shown just how important this seat at the (now virtual) table can be. Computer modernization and technological innovation have been the cornerstone of effective government operations during the pandemic.

FCW recently brought together a group of federal and local IT leaders to explore how they are adjusting to the “new normal” as pandemic emergency response gives way to the expectations of citizens and employees alike. changed permanently. The aim was to see how CIOs, CTOs and other key leaders have seen their fundamental roles and priorities evolve, and where they plan to focus their energies in the months to come.

The discussion was recorded but not for individual attribution (see sidebar for full list of participants), and quotes have been edited for length and clarity. Here is what the group had to say.

IT in the spotlight

For most of the participants, the pandemic was a very public demonstration of the value their teams bring. “I think people have a deeper and more relevant appreciation for the power of technology and empowerment from a leadership perspective,” said one CIO. This was true to some extent before COVID, but “now it’s definitely a peer-to-peer understanding that mission, operations are not possible without the undercurrent of technology.”

FCW Outlook


Shane barney
Head of Information Security, Department of Homeland Security

Winston Beauchamp
Deputy CIO, Air Force Department

Guy Cavallo
Deputy IT Director, Office of Personnel Management

Lou charlier
Deputy IT Director, Ministry of Labor

La’Naia Jones
Deputy IT Director, National Security Agency

Heather kowalski
DSI, INTERPOL-USNCB, Department of Justice

Kimberly The Crane
CIO, City of New Orleans

Jonathan Nguyen-Duy
Vice President and Chief Field Information Security Officer, Fortinet

Eric Quinn
Director, Global IT Modernization, Department of State

Jim richberg
Field Information Security Officer, Fortinet

Christophe Sainte-Luce
CIO, City of Venice (Florida)

Note: FCW Editor-in-Chief Troy K. Schneider chaired the panel discussion. The June 2021 rally was endorsed by Fortinet, but both the substance of the discussion and the recap of these pages are strictly editorial products. Neither Fortinet nor any of the roundtable participants had any comments beyond their June 17 comments.

While senior agency executives might previously view VPNs and bandwidth management as operational details, “started to really see the tips because they were living them,” the official said. “And so people were seeing in real time, ‘Hey, I think we need to make sure that the techs are involved in this, because that could be the keystone. “And so I hope it stays the same. I think we all have short memories.”

The speed at which many agencies have shifted to telecommuting and collaborating remotely has also earned new credibility from the IT leaders who have made this possible. “At least what it has shown is that we can go fast when the stops are over,” one official said. “When you put the bureaucracy aside, it is quite possible.”

“In no period that I can remember have we spent more time in business talking about IT issues,” said another participant. “Both in terms of ‘help me make my VPN work for telecommuting’, and also in terms of the imperative to change the way we accomplish our mission.”

Several attendees also said they are sought after by business owners within their organizations, not only for IT to support remote working and digital transformation, but also for strategic advice.

A local government official said that the main departments used to operating on the ground in the community never really thought about what it would take to switch to virtual citizen services. “Not having people in the office meant you had to really think through and figure out how you were going to deliver your service to citizens remotely. IT has therefore become the benchmark and authority on how to apply a digital and fair lens to customer service. in a society like ours. “

“We had to provide information on how customers could be served to these departments and then help them find solutions on how they would continue customer service.

Not all organizations have adopted this perspective. “My biggest challenge over the past year has been getting my superiors to have a realistic expectation of what a small IT team can do,” said one manager who said they rarely were, or even never included in strategic discussions. “We were able to do a lot of things, and I regularly greet my team for making it happen. But make it clear to bosses that you come from an organization that has an IT team bigger than our entire organization. We can’t do everything. just not duplicate what this other group is doing. We don’t have the budget. We don’t have the time. “

And even where CIOs are now seen as a valued voice, the image of the help desk persists. “We’re a store for politics, strategy, and enterprise architecture,” one participant said, “but I still get calls from our front desk saying, ‘Hey, can we get some tablets? So we can watch the PowerPoint slides in real time? They can keep both of these things in their heads at the same time. Yes, we need to talk more about IT, but also fix my tablet. “

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