Federal Manager's Daily Report

CIOs exist to serve as an agency focal point to address IT challenges but their roles are not well defined overall and CIOs themselves acknowledge that they “were not always very effective” in managing IT, GAO has said.

In a blog posting, the GAO cited its earlier report focusing on the CIO role in managing the government’s $96 billion annual spending on IT and in responding to both external and internal information security threats. Of the six key tasks GAO identified, agency policies are best defined in the area of IT leadership and accountability, and worst defined in the area of IT workforce management, GAO said, although most of the 24 CIO Council agencies have not fully defined the role of their CIO council in any of those areas.

In addition, “half of the 24 agency CIOs we surveyed reported management challenges like the process for hiring and recruiting IT personnel, financial resources, and the availability of staff resources.”

“Further compounding the management challenges is the lack of consistent leadership in the CIO position,” it added, saying that industry experts consider necessary for a CIO to stay in office for 3 to 5 years to be effective and 5 to 7 years to fully implement major change initiatives in large public sector organizations. However, the median tenure for agency CIOs on leaving office was about 20 months.

GAO said it will follow up on the recommendations it made in its report and monitor agencies’ progress.