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DHS CIO Richard Spires Exits – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • The drumbeat of low morale, budget cuts and pay freezes portray a dark vision of federal workers and the federal space itself. But in reality there is excellence brewing at every agency. The Partnership for Public Service highlights some of those great stories in their annual Service to America Medals. Click for the full recap.

But up front: Richard Spires exits

After being on administrative leave from the Homeland Security Department since March 15, Richard Spires has resigned as chief information officer, Federal Computer Week reports.

The departure leaves scores of open questions.

Spires has served as the department’s CIO since September 2009. Margie Graves has been acting CIO since Spires went on leave.

In a note to DHS staff, Spires wrote:

“It has been a privilege to work with such a stellar group of public servants to support such important missions. I have served as the Department’s CIO for more than 3 1/2 half years, and I take pride in working with you to have IT more effectively support the Homeland Security missions and business as we also have worked to more efficiently deliver our services. I have learned much from you and I will miss you.”

There are many parts of this story that are concerning. First off, it is unclear why Spires was on administrative leave. That, of course, hasn’t stopped the government IT space from talking about it — and what it might mean.

And there are significant concerns that Spires departure may have an impact on the role of the CIO. After all, Spires isn’t just another CIO. He has led one of the biggest federal agencies IT organizations for years — and served as the vice-chairman of the Federal CIO Council.

FCW, which has been out front on this story, says, Spires departure “may have been precipitated by fundamental disagreements over CIO’s authority over department-wide budgeting and purchasing of commodity IT.”

Meanwhile Red Ink is Receding:

After four years of trillion-dollar deficits, the red ink is receding rapidly in Washington, easing pressure on policymakers but shattering hopes for a summertime budget deal. Federal tax revenue is up and spending is down thanks to an improving economy, tax increases that took effect in January and the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester. – Washington Post.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. A new report from the Pentagon marked the most explicit statement yet from the United States that it believes China’s cyber espionage is focused on the U.S. government, as well as American corporations. SecurityWeek reports that the Defense Department’s annual report to Congress assessing the Chinese military says that China kept up a steady campaign of hacking in 2012 that included attempts to target U.S. government computer networks, which could provide Beijing a better insight into America’s policy deliberations and military capabilities. Read the report to Congress [PDF].
  2. The Air Force stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to control — and, if necessary, launch —nuclear missiles after a string of unpublicized failings, including a remarkably dim review of their unit’s launch skills. Yahoo News reportsthe group’s deputy commander said it is suffering “rot” within its ranks.
  3. There will be a shakeup at the CIA. The Washington Post reports, a CIA officer who was the first woman to lead the agency’s clandestine service, but was also directly involved in its controversial interrogation program, will not get to keep that job as part of a management shake-up announced by CIA Director John O. Brennan. The officer, who is undercover, served as director of the National Clandestine Service on an interim basis over the past two months, and many considered her a front-runner to keep the post, which involves overseeing the CIA’s spying operations worldwide.
  4. President Obama has picked Nicole Wong, Twitter’s legal director, to be the White House’s first chief privacy officer. CNETNews reports, the new position will be a senior adviser to the chief technology officer, currently Todd Park, and will focus on Internet and privacy policy. Park succeeded Aneesh Chopra, who was the first to be appointed to that job and left in January 2012.
  5. Key lawmakers want to ban bonuses for five years. NextGov reports, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee proposed legislation that would ban all bonuses for senior executives in the Veterans Affairs Department for the next five years. The move by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., is in response to VA’s disability claims backlog and patient deaths in VA hospitals.
  6. The Office of Management and Budget is drafting a memo to move agencies out of a once every three-year authorization process and into continuous monitoring in conjunction with the Federal Information Security Management Act, Federal News Radio reports. The OMB said agencies are expected to conduct ongoing authorizations of information systems through the implementation of continuous monitoring programs. The concept of ongoing authorizations was outlined in the fiscal 2012 FISMA guidance sent to agencies in September.
  7. And on GovLoop. You can now register for the April edition of DorobekINSIDER Live. We’ll be talking citizen engagement. Register for the free event here.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • CIOJournal: Facebook CIO: ‘We don’t want to waste your time.’ The emphasis on productivity and efficiency at Facebook Inc., shapes how CIO Tim Campos approaches information technology. For instance, after an employee calls the help desk two or three times about a computer issue, the company simply replaces the worker’s laptop. Other tech devices and accessories–headphones, batteries, cables, etc.–are available in vending machines on each floor in every building on campus. “The point is that we think about things differently, which causes us to be efficient,” Mr. Campos tells CIO Journal. “We don’t want to waste your time, nor do we want to waste ours,” he said.
  • Linguists identify15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words’

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