Information Technology Governance & The Federal CIO


Shortly after taking office, the new White House staff and President Obama were shocked at the state of information technology for the executive branch of the government. President Obama himself struggled with the idea of giving up his Blackberry and pushed the Secret Service and other IT staff to find a way to allow him to be safe, secure, and informed with the latest technologies. But the President didn’t stop at his Blackberry.

One of the President’s very first actions was to appoint a new position to the White House staff, the first Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO). He appointed the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, to fill the position, in hopes that having an overseeing position will allow the government to have more control over the $80 billion spent each year on Information Technology. Before becoming the CTO at the District of Columbia, Kundra was the assistant secretary of commerce and technology for the commonwealth of Virginia. These previous positions, his experience around Washington, and his knowledge of the need for increased IT solutions and governance made him a perfect fit for President Obama’s new position.

The CIO didn’t take long before instituting a number of Information Technology Governance procedures and strategies to help shape the direction of the IT spending across the government. This is clearly visible by the announcement of initiatives around information sharing, such as data.gov, apps.gov, and the IT Dashboard sites that have been modernized and made available to the public for their use. One of the main focuses of all of the initial actions by the Federal CIO is to govern the IT spending, shape the direction of the IT improvement, and insure that costs are reduced by implementing modern solutions. It will be interesting to see how well each of the branches of the government and their departments follow the lead and play nicely with the White House and the Federal CIO.


The Federal CIO hopes to build on these initial information technology strategies and governance by positioning the Federal Government in a way that enables them to use emerging technologies such as cloud computing. Data Governance in cloud computing brings out many new issues not normally addressed in normal enterprise data governance. Data Governance considerations for data in the cloud include information access, security, sharing, and more.

Information Sharing and multi-organizational communication will need to be strengthened and improved if the CIO’s plan is to be successful. The combination of all these moving parts may be the exact reason that the President felt the need for a Federal CIO. It is that role that will be required to facilitate communication and summits across departments to determine policy around data governance and information technology governance.

From a data governance perspective, the data.gov, apps.gov, and IT Dashboard initiatives are very interesting. We are huge fans of new and emerging technologies that promote improved processes and efficiencies. We’re glad to see that the government is adopting and adapting to these trends and look forward to seeing them implemented successfully in each of the departments. As tax payers, we always want to see the government do more with less, and many of the technologies enable just that.

A series of articles discussing these many new initiatives will soon be available at the Data Governance Blog. We’ll review together how the corporate and government worlds can gain success through utilizing data governance and IT governance initiatives to reduce costs and increase productivity.

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