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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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