Government 2.0

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Few agency CIOs walk the social media talk

Federal chief information officers are all for using social media, Web 2.0 and Government 2.0 initiatives to further the cause of collaboration and transparency in government, TechAmerica’s 20th annual CIO Survey said.

Nearly half of agency CIOs are providing access to and encouraging use of such tools, the IT leaders told survey interviewers. Another 40 percent are developing policy for using the tools, while the remaining 15 percent are “watchers,” waiting to see how other agencies’ projects fare, said Paul Wohlleben, a partner at Grant Thornton LLP and former General Services Administration CIO.

But it’s not a bandwagon that many CIOs seem to be personally aboard. The value of a public blog by a CIO “depends on the agency, on whether it’s a more public-facing agency,” said Simon Szykman, National Institute of standards and Technology CIO. Each agency must consider whether it would add value.

Neither Devon Bryan, IRS deputy associate CIO for cybersecurity, nor Darren Ash, Nuclear Regulatory Commission CIO, have a public blog or any plan to start one. But, Bryan said, the IRS currently has a task force evaluating what it can do to take advantage of social media to engage with the public.

Homeland Security Department executive director of the IT Services Office, is not enthusiastic at the prospect, but didn’t rule it out. “We’ve thought about it, discussed it, but we’re not doing it,” he said. “At least not yet,” he conceded.

A search for public blogs by CIOs at about a score of federal agencies revealed what appear to be a couple of trends.

If your agency’s CIO is a woman, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing from her. The most frequent and regular CIO blogger, writing on the view from the CIO’s office, is probably Linda Cureton at NASA; the space agency has a federated site with regular contributions from more than 20 agency bloggers, including Cureton, astronauts Nicole Stott and Jeff Williams, and Ames Research Center CIO Chris Kemp.

In making the keynote speaking rounds, new GSA Administrator Martha Johnson is demanding props for the agency’s historic willingness to trailblaze use of new technologies. Agency CIO Casey Coleman supports Johnson’s assertion with her blogs. Her easy style and broad interests make her postings an engaging read. Coleman also takes the extra step of adding a link to her Facebook page.

Give a CIO cross-agency responsibilities and you boost the likelihood of that CIO becoming a blogger. Neither Environmental Protection Agency Deputy CIO Linda Travers nor Interior Department CIO Sanjeev Bhagowalia have regular blogs on their home sites, but as CIO Council Data.gov co-leads, they joined this month to blog about Data.gov’s future. And Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s card ought to read: Have blogging skills, will travel. At least virtually: He held a live chat, taking questions from Facebook and whitehouse.gov last June, and joins other federal IT officials on their blogs. That’s in addition to his own regular gig at it usaspending.gov.

The best way to get a regular CIO blog going, however, seems to be to name Navy CIO Robert Carey to the top IT slot. Sister publication Federal Computer Week two years ago surprised Carey with the information that he was the first federal CIO to start a public blog. “I started this blog to open another line of communication with those in the department, to capture the thoughts of the department about issues of the day and to ensure my office is focusing on what is important, especially to our warfighters,” he said.

But the biggest trend may be nothing at all. Of 25 CIOs, only a third have stepped up to their bully pulpit:

  • Agriculture Department: Chris Smith has an official blog, posts infrequently. Recent posting: Aug. 20, 2009
  • Commerce Department: Suzanne Hilding. No blog found.
  • Defense Department: Acting CIO Cheryl J. Roby. No blog found.
  • Air Force: Lt. Gen. William T. Lord. No blog found.
  • Army: Jeffrey A. Sorenson. No blog found.
  • Navy: Robert Carey. Not just a regular blogger, he was, as FCW pointed out more than two years ago, the first federal CIO to have a blog. Recent posting: Top 10 in 2010, Feb. 18, 2010
  • Education Department: Danny A. Harris. No blog found.
  • Energy Department: Acting CIO William Turnbull. No blog found.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Linda Travers. No official EPA blog found but has posted on EPA’s agency blog June 9th, 2009, and with DOI CIO Sanjeev Bhagowalia forData.gov March 15th, 2010
  • Executive Office of the President: Brook Colangelo. No blog found.
  • General Services Administration: Casey Coleman has official blog (with Facebook link) and posts at least monthly. Recent posting: Mobility and Meteorology, Feb. 17th, 2010
  • Health and Human Services Department: CIO Michael Carleton has no blog but chief technology officer Todd Park blogs on the Open HHS Blog, “and I agree with everything he says,” Carleton said. Recent posting: March 1, 2010
  • Homeland Security Department: Richard Spires. No blog found.
  • Housing and Urban Development Department: Jerry E. Williams. No blog found.
  • Interior Department: Sanjeev Bhagawalia. No official DOI blog found but posts occasionally, as with EPA CIO Linda A. Travers for Data.gov. Recent posting: March 15th, 2010
  • Justice Department: Vance Hitch. No official blog, but he joined veteran bloggers Vivek Kundra and Robert Carey for a posting Sept. 28, 2009
  • Labor Department: Thomas M. Kerr. No blog found.
  • NASA: Several departmental CIOs have official blogs, but none posts more frequently — from weekly to monthly — than agency CIO Linda Cureton. Recent posting: March 14, 2010
  • Office of Personnel Management: Matthew E. Perry. No blog found.
  • Office of Management & Budget: Vivek Kundra. He often joins other IT officials to blog on a variety of topics on various sites. Recent posting on his regular venue: Feb. 24, 2010
  • Social Security Administration: Frank Baitman. No blog found.
  • State Department: Susan H. Swart. No blog found.
  • Transportation Department: Nitin Pradhan. No blog found.
  • Treasury Department: Michael Duffy. No blog found.
  • Veterans Affairs Department: Roger W. Baker. No blog found.

Posted by Sami Lais on Mar 24, 2010 at 7:24 PM


Reader Comments

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 Adriel Hampton http://adrielhampton.com

Whether or not a CIO blogs personally or not is probably not the right way to evaluate agency social media efforts. I'd bet plenty of high-level folks who blog have staff who do much of the work. Plus, many of the agencies doing the best job in social media have CIOs who empower and encourage their teams, not hack out regular posts. (No offense to those CIOs who are fine bloggers in their own right.) I'd never want someone who doesn't like to blog to do it, and I wouldn't think less of them as a leader for that reason alone.

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