The government's new information technology management scheme
takes effect in three months, but so far only five of the 15 Cabinet agencies have named
chief information officers as mandated by law.
President Clinton ignited the management make-over when he signed the 1996 Defense
Authorization Act, which repealed the Brooks Act and eliminated the official IRM executive
in each agency. The 1965 Brooks Act put GSA in charge of federal computer procurement and
laid out an IRM management scheme.
Under the new law, Cabinet agencies are required to name CIOs, who report directly to
the agency head and have primary responsibility for all IT activities. Agency heads can
recruit CIOs from government or industry. They also may appoint deputy CIOs and CIOs for
major bureaus or subordinate agencies.
Some agencies are planning to recast their senior IRM officials or IRM directors as
CIOs. Others are naming only acting CIOs for now.
In the past month, OMB issued an executive order outlining the pending CIO
requirements. And the new CIO Council and its subcommittees are developing guides to help
agencies meet the law's requirements by the Aug. 8 deadline.
"This is perhaps the most influential period for determining how IT systems and
programs will be implemented," said Joe Thompson, chairman of the CIO Council and
Some agencies are looking at ways to combine the CIO authority with other senior
management posts, as did the Health and Human Services Department. HHS tapped John J.
Callahan, its chief financial officer and assistant secretary for management and budget,
to be its CIO as well.
Some agencies established CIO posts before the law change. The Energy Department is one
that expects to keep its CIO, S.W. ""Woody'' Hall, in that role.
But many agency officials said their executives still are trying to figure out where
the CIO position will fit best and how a CIO will work with the CFO and other top
"I carry the title now, but we have not gone through and settled how we will
comply both organizationally and individually," said Alan Balutis, Commerce's
director of budget, planning and organization. "It's not been decided just yet where
the new CIO will be in the department or who will hold that title."
The Education Department also remains undecided. "Some consideration is being
given to combining the CIO and chief financial officer positions, and the department is
interviewing people for the CFO position while trying to decide," Education spokesman
Rick Miller said. "If the CIO is a standalone position, they haven't decided yet
where it will fit within the department organization."
Meanwhile, the CIO Council is laying the groundwork for the law's new IT capital
planning and budgeting requirements. It needs to make sure that government IT budgets are
based on program performance and return-on-investment calculations.
OMB officials said they will revise OMB Circular A-11 so agency IT budget submissions
will fulfill the statutory requirements. The revised circular is due out by June, and OMB
officials said the guidance will borrow heavily from the agency's existing Guide to
Evaluating IT Investments.
Thompson said the CIO Council's Capital Planning Subcommittee has defined capital
planning as "an integrated management process which provides for the continuous
identification, selection, control, lifecycle management and evaluation" of IT
The CIO Council also is working with OMB and Defense Department officials to develop
agency capital planning pilots that will test automated tools.
"OMB plans to use capital planning for the fiscal 1998 budget, and we want to put
in place some good models before the process starts. We're looking to have five pilots in
fiscal 1997 that will give us a head start," Thompson said. "We need to do
capital planning on a real-time basis and reduce the amount of manual labor."
As for weeding out the government's defunct IRM regulations, the CIO Council has
estimated that only 10 percent of GSA's Federal IRM Regulation will survive and the
remaining rules will be incorporated into existing regulatory documents.
FIRMR provisions covering such things as technology standards probably will be placed
in OMB Circular A-130, and sections on multiyear contracting authority will be tucked into
the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
Staff writers William Jackson, Christopher J. Dorobek and Paul Constance
contributed to this story.
Defense Department--Emmett Paige Jr., assistant secretary for command, control,
communications and intelligence
Energy Department--S.W. ""Woody'' Hall, chief information officer (candidate)
Environmental Protection Agency--Alvin M. Pesachowitz, assistant administrator for
administration and resources management (acting)
Health and Human Services Department--John J. Callahan, chief financial officer and
assistant secretary for management and budget
Housing and Urban Development Department--Steven M. Yohai, chief information officer
Labor Department--Cynthia A. Metzler, assistant secretary for administration and
State Department--Eliza McClenaghan, special adviser to the undersecretary for
Veterans Affairs Department--D. Mark Catlett, CFO and assistant secretary for