Tony Scott Gets Started: What We Can Tell From His First Week as Federal CIO

Since President Obama appointed Tony Scott as Federal CIO six weeks ago, Scott has toured agencies and made only a few public appearances. But last week was his coming out party. He made at least two appearances and didn’t hold back his opinions.

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Since President Obama appointed Tony Scott as Federal CIO six weeks ago, Scott has toured agencies and made only a few public appearances. But last week was his coming out party. He made at least two appearances and didn’t hold back his opinions.

Workforce of the Future
People are Priority One, says Scott, who launched his IT Solutions Challenge earlier this month.

“We have a huge people agenda – to bring in the right kind of talent and get some momentum on some of these things,” he told Adam Mazmanian at FCW.

He praised the US Digital Services team under Administrator Mikey Dickerson, and said the USDS staff is opening minds across government. “I have a lot of sympathy for folks who have been in the agencies and keeping the engines going and doing new development under the old IT model. Our experience is that [US Digital Services staffers] give everybody on the team, old and new alike, the opportunity to do something different than what we’ve been doing.”

Government will put citizens first, he said. “Our focus thus far has been on the consumer-facing, citizen-facing most impactful digital services of the federal government,” he told an AFCEA gathering in Bethesda, Jack Moore reported for Nextgov. “But we’re also going to probably expand the talent in that organization and focus on some core infrastructure areas and anywhere where we need rapid change.”

Collaboration in the C-Suite
Scott preaches collaboration over top-down management, especially when it comes to CIOs and newChief Data Officers.

“Unlike FITARA, there’s not a congressional act that mandates where the ‘data guys’ go or what they do,” said Scott. Federal CTO “Megan [Smith] and I have talked at length about the triumvirate of a powerful mechanism working together: the CIO, CTO, and the data person. It’s collaboration across a number of different elements.”

Managing Budgets
Scott plans to continue the PortfolioStat review process to improve efficiency in the $80 billion federal IT budget, reports FCW’s Mazmanian. Scott knows the challenges of managing budget pressures imposed from above.

“Giving CIOs a dollar target is often the wrong thing to do,” Scott told the Bethesda AFCEA gathering, reports Jason Miller at Federal News Radio. “If you give us a dollar target, we’ll figure out how to cut costs in the short run, but perhaps not drive sustainable value in the long run. I prefer giving goals that ensure that we are investing in the right set of things so that we have a brighter future ahead of us rather than having to play catch-up when we inevitably find ourselves behind the eight ball.”

Open Data
At the Financial Regulation Summit, Scott emphasized a new era in open government, particularly in making more data available to the public. It’s a $1 trillion opportunity, Scott said. Legislation such as FITARA helps guide CIOs to better work with open data.

The government has a long way to go, however. Indeed, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council received the dubious Rosemary Award last year. The distinction is named after President Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, and is given for the worst open government performance of the year. It was the CIO Council’s second award in five years, and is an even more dubious distinction given this administration’s open government objectives.

“Government data must be open by default,” said Scott. “It should be a core idea and principle. It’s not just the data, but the algorithms so we can fully embrace and use the government’s data. We see the end results every day. We need to show how we get there.”

The Power of Cloud
Cloud computing can help feds “do things that we never imagined ever before,” Scott said, in outlining a three-point plan for agencies moving to the cloud: First, build a roadmap he said; then identify common platforms and services; then kill the weak, he told the AFCEA gathering.

“Be very deliberate about killing off the stuff that’s not going to survive the move to the cloud,” he told the group, according to Aaron Boyd of Federal Times. “We’re great at launching new things. But getting rid of the old stuff is part and parcel of that journey.”
Join the conversation. Post a comment below or email me at adoggett@300brand.com.

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