Interagency Cooperation Produces Results for All
IBM Center for the Business of Government Senior Fellow Senior Fellow Margie Graves, who once served as deputy CIO of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recalled the importance of interagency cooperation when establishing DHS after 9/11.
“We were trying to make whole cloth out of multiple pieces,” Graves said. “There wasn’t any underpinning infrastructure or governance at the time, but we made it work.”
DHS pulled in whole agencies and pieces from other federal departments. “Each of them came with its own mission space, applications, infrastructure and culture,” Graves said. And Congress required the integration of these agencies to be budget-neutral, meaning there was no extra money to spend on a headquarters infrastructure.
Early in the process, DHS set up a CIO council to gain interagency cooperation and agree on what projects to advance. “We could not rationalize applications and mission support across the agency unless we had a coalition of the willing,” Graves said. “DHS was a federated agency. Everything we did was through coalition building.”
That successful cooperation eventually extended to industry partners as the CIOs strengthened their relationship with the DHS chief procurement officer, Graves added.
DISCOVER: How to choose backup solutions when an agency operates in multiple environments.
Team Building Is Essential to Technology Modernization
Maria Roat, former deputy federal CIO and former CIO of the U.S. Small Business Administration, described the challenges with team building inside an agency.
“I’m in the construction business. I build things wherever I go,” Roat told the conference.
When she was at SBA, the agency was perhaps 10 years behind in terms of technology. Roat worked with an intraoffice team that included the chief financial officer, the chief acquisition officer and the chief procurement officer to advance the agency enterprise.
“It’s not only building your technology team but also building the rest of your team,” Roat said. “It’s not about the CIO; it’s about the team. It’s about driving change, and you cannot do that without all of those people.”
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