Masterminds

Behind the scenes, C-title executives run the show.

As our cover connotes, this issue is about the people who pull the strings behind the scenes in departments and agencies. The chiefs of finance, information, information security, human capital and acquisition aren't as widely known as Cabinet secretaries and agency heads. They often aren't quoted in the media-outside of Government Executive, that is. They don't head up large, well-known organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Service, Social Security Administration or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But they set policies for and run the backbone services that make or break government.

Chief human capital officers orchestrate the hiring and management of employees with the right skills to get astronauts to the moon and Mars, rescue and reconstruct during and after disasters, move supplies to soldiers in Iraq, build the most powerful and complex computer systems in the world, collect more than $2 trillion in taxes annually, prevent an unknown number of terrorist acts each year, and more.

Chief information officers surf the rapids of technological change, steady the rudder when firewalls are breached or data is lost, and keep watch for innovations that will enhance agency operations. Along with chief information security officers, they keep watch to secure networks and to sound the alarm so the crew stays alert and ready to repel attackers.

Chief finance officers work their magic on agencies' books, cleaning, ordering and taming huge flows of funds into and out of some of the biggest "businesses" in America. Their yea or nay can open or close the spigot on investments in gigantic IT projects, added services, new organizations and other big purchases. They have brought down improper payments by federal entities by $8.8 billion since 2004 and found and disposed of $4.5 billion in excess property in the past two years.

Chief acquisition officers oversee purchases of goods and services that totaled $425 billion in 2006. CAOs set policies to guide that massive buying effort and to buttress and develop the staff of experts who handle procurements. Acquisition chiefs are especially focused on rebuilding the buying corps after it was gutted in the 1990s. They point to short staffing as the root of many, even most, procurement scandals and improprieties cropping up so regularly in recent years. The value of purchases has doubled or more at many agencies, while the acquisition workforce has flat-lined.

The chiefs are wizards, guardians, gatekeepers, conductors and navigators as our terrific artist, Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio, has rendered them. But more than that, they are the masters of an increasingly complicated and interconnected set of crucial services. Through this directory, our chief-focused breakfast series and our ongoing coverage, we remain dedicated to illuminating their challenges and achievements.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.