by Meridith Levinson

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff Gives CIO Charbo Greater Budget Authority

Mar 21, 20073 mins

I’m Jonny-Come-Lately on this news story about U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff enhancing the authority of DHS CIO Scott Charbo. On March 15, Secretary Chertoff announced in a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council that he was issuing “a management directive that will enhance and elevate the authority” of the CIO. The purpose of this directive is to coordinate all the work going on inside DHS and to ensure the department’s “prudent annual investment of over $3 billion in IT,” according to Chertoff.

The directive gives Charbo greater authority over the DHS’s technology spending: Agencies within the department will have to submit their IT budgets to Charbo for approval, and any IT purchase over $2.5 million will require approval from Charbo’s Enterprise Architecture Board.

I’ve heard anecdotally and read that it’s been really hard for DHS CIOs to succeed and get anything done. That’s why there’s been so much CIO turnover in the department.  This move will hopefully make it easier for Charbo.  

Here’s an excerpt from Chertoff’s speech, outlining the increased authority that Charbo will exercise:

Under this new mandate, which I will issue today, each DHS component will be required to submit its IT budget to the CIO, who will make recommendations to me for final inclusion in the department’s budget request.

Second, any IT acquisition larger than $2.5 million will have to first be approved by the department’s Enterprise Architecture Board as being aligned with the department’s enterprise architecture, and then submitted to the CIO for approval.

Third, the DHS CIO will approve the hiring of component CIOs and set and approve their performance plans, ratings and annual award compensation.

To implement these new authorities, we will be strengthening the department’s investment review process and more tightly integrating it with our budget acquisition and procurement business functions.

In a department of our size and complexity, and particularly in a department built from a lot of legacy agencies, this unification and strengthening of core management will not be easy. Some of the components will not be used to this level of centralized coordination, particularly as it relates to IT systems. But I’m convinced after two years, as is my leadership team, that we must make this happen, because it is necessary to get to the next level of effective and cost-effective management of our IT resources to fulfill our mission of protecting the American people and our homeland.

Let me conclude by saying — and I know that’s always a welcome phrase — that we cannot provide a solution to every problem or challenge we face through technology. But I will say technology is at least part of the solution for almost every problem.