America’s CIO


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Washington DC, November 2002--America, Inc., one of the largest and best-funded organizations in the world, announced that it will add a Chief Information Officer (CIO) to its leadership ranks. This high-profile position will report directly to the President and CEO of America; will employ a staff of 170,000 people; and will operate with a budget of $35.5 billion for the 2003 fiscal year. The CIO position has been created to help extend 226 years of America's global market and product leadership. Speaking to reporters at a press conference, George W. Bush, President and CEO of America, Inc. said: "this new department will analyze intelligence information…will match this intelligence against [America]'s vulnerabilities…will gather and focus all our efforts to face the challenge…and will be charged with encouraging research on new technologies."

The new CIO is a well-known Information Technology veteran. In his previous role heading up a well-known eastern American state, the nominee's "aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state's advances in the priority areas of economic development, education, health, and the environment."

Participating in an online chat, the CIO-designate commented: "It is clear in the President's mind, as I think it is in everyone's mind, that one of the advantages we have…is the creativity and the entrepreneurship of America, but particularly the technology sector. The key is to determine the policy before we acquire the technology, but I see applications all across the board from IT initiatives that fuse databases and give different levels of government access to different levels of information."

To learn more about the new position, the nominee and the department, please visit a special section of America's Web site www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/.

—an imaginary press release


The creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the biggest re-organization of the U.S. government since the creation of the Department of Defense some 50 years ago, is really all about Information Technology. And Tom Ridge has, in my mind, just assumed the role of America's CIO. Of course, IT and a CIO are not the terms President Bush used to describe the department nor the person selected to lead it. In any case, homeland security is a critical issue for America and I don't mean to belittle the importance of the stated missions of the Department. Homeland Security is vital. But it is certainly fascinating to read the hundreds of references to the importance of IT on the Homeland Security section of the White House Web site.

Although my opening "press release" obviously serves only to illustrate my point, I did obtain the Bush and Ridge quotes I used in the fictional release on the actual White House Web site. I encourage you to read the Department of Homeland Security plan and it's numerous IT and content references. A user-friendly PDF version of the plan can be found at: www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/11/reorganization_plan.pdf.

As you probably already know, a major component of the Homeland Security Department is the creation of a new Information Analysis group. The group, with nearly 1,000 employees and a budget of $364 million will synthesize data from diverse agencies and departments including CIA, NSA, FBI, INS, DEA, and more. This will be the first time America will have a central organization for assessing the multitude of threats to America.

Ridge clearly understands the role of content and technology in protecting America. His short one page bio on the White House Web site includes the word "technology" three times! His public statements, particularly an online chat, also conveniently available on the White House site, include many references to how econtent and technology can help drive the mission of Homeland Security.

So I ask you, how cool is it that we'll soon have an econtent wonk in the cabinet? Since Ridge is so focused on IT and econtent, I'd propose that our industry create a Board of Advisors to share the knowledge we've built up over many years in this business. The Board would work with the new Secretary directly, as well as the newly created Information Analysis group as they get down to the task of consolidating the many varied databases within the agencies and departments they'll monitor.

Needless to say, there are many readers of this magazine who have already struggled with the immense task of bringing disparate databases, with differing formats, together within a common taxonomy, concorded meta-data and a single UI. Governor Ridge, speaking for the econtent industry, we're here to help.