Agencies create CKO posts to get in the know

Agencies create CKO posts to get in the know

Shereen Remez, GSA's CKO, says data sharing is key to successful knowledge management.

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

Agencies are looking beyond chief information officers to take advantage of the reams of information stored in a multitude of systems. To meet the challenge, some agencies are creating a new post: chief knowledge officer.

Knowledge management has been a buzz phrase in industry for more than a year, but it only recently began to take hold in the federal government.

The groundbreaking for the foundation of knowledge management within agencies occurred with the June appointment of Shereen Remez as the General Services Administration's'and the government's'first CKO.

'Ultimately, the government delivers information to its citizens'whether it is about their benefits or their laws,' said Remez, GSA's former CIO. 'We can find better ways to deliver that information. The offices of chief information officers already have so much on their plate that it makes sense to have a focal point to jump-start the process.'

Adm. George Naccara, the Coast Guard's CIO, said the Guard is selecting a CKO who will also serve as deputy CIO.

'We have so much information that is critical to our missions,' Naccara said. 'We need to set up a formal method to capture that information.'

Knowledge within the Coast Guard is transitory because personnel move from station to station, taking their expertise with them, he said. The CKO will help ensure that knowledge is not lost and improve critical decision support, he said.

Remez said knowledge management requires data sharing at an enterprisewide level and bridging local islands of information. For example, she plans to implement portals through which users could make requests and a Web crawler would gather information overnight.

Brian King, the Coast Guard's deputy CIO, is applying for the CKO position. 'Knowledge management is a good development because it changes our focus from technology to how we use information,' he said. 'We can get our hands on technology so people are comfortable with it, but what we really need is the knowledge and focus on what we've learned.'

King said that although the Guard has made strides in implementing technology and a sound infrastructure, knowledge management will let the Guard maximize its use of the information in those systems.

'We need to work at a higher level of enterprise to make the cultural shift to an enterprise decision support system,' he said.

Remez said successful implementation of knowledge management consists of five components: business purpose and measurement of results; strategy; leadership; a culture of sharing; and technology.

But she said the emphasis in her office is on the human component'where the knowledge worker is most important. 'Knowledge management will continue to grow as we see continued pressure on the government to perform more efficiently. It will allow us to reuse and innovate ways to use knowledge.'

She added that 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies have knowledge management teams and 25 percent have chief knowledge officers.

Susan Hanley, knowledge management director for American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., said the knowledge management infrastructure of a business consists of research, best practices, consulting and communications.

To succeed, a CKO must leverage an organization's technological infrastructure to meet the data requirements of users and customers, Hanley said last month at a seminar held by the Association for Federal IRM.

Remez said that 'citizens are demanding the same type of service from the government.'

She said the federal CIO Council is in the preliminary stages of developing a knowledge management Web site. The address will be

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