Open Government Partner Approach: Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) (Post 2 of 8 in Series)

Motivations: According to the Federal CIO Council, there are twelve core competency areas or functions of a Federal OCIO. These core competencies are illustrated in the following visual from the National Defense University (

Functions of a Federal OCIO

Federal OCIO’s have a wide breadth of responsibility, involving interactions with multiple stakeholders each with a wide-range of needs (e.g., policy, cybersecurity, IT training, IT shared services, project management, technology assessment, etc.). To address these needs, Federal OCIO’s typically deliver two mission critical services – Information Delivery and IT Infrastructure Delivery – both of which are supported by various management and support functions, as denoted in the figure above.

Over time, Federal Agencies have become increasingly dependent upon IT to fulfill their mission objectives. This increasing dependence has resulted in a growing need for IT services of a quality corresponding to the objectives of the business, and which meet the requirements and expectations of the customer. Emphasis has shifted from the development of IT applications to the management of IT services. It is with this idea in mind that the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was developed to disseminate proven IT Service Management best practices systematically and cohesively. OCIO shops across the Federal government are beginning to utilize ITIL to improve mission performance and service to customers, and it is recommended that this same approach be used to assist in the implementation of Open Government.

Approach: ITIL is a library of volumes describing a framework of best practices for delivering IT service, proving a systematic and professional approach to the management of IT services. Adopting its guidance offers Federal OCIO's a range of benefits that include:

  • Reduced costs
  • Improved IT services through the use of proven best practice processes
  • Improved customer satisfaction through a more professional approach to service delivery
  • Standards and guidance
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved use of skills and experience
  • Improved delivery of third party services

Most, if not all of these benefits align closely with the overarching goals of Open Government (Transparency, Collaboration, and Participation). Implementing a successful Open Government strategy within an OCIO will require interaction with many of the same stakeholders they deal with on a day-to- day basis, who will have needs that closely align with the core functions of a Federal OCIO:

  • What Web 2.0 tools are available for use?
  • Are there enterprise license agreements that can be leveraged?
  • What policies currently exist that relate to Open Government?
  • What are the security implications of introducing a new Web 2.0 tool?
  • How can I implement a specific Web 2.0 tool for my program?

It is our belief that the ITIL framework can greatly assist in the development of an effective Open Government strategy for Federal OCIO’s.

Partner’s Bottom Line: Federal CIOs must see the bigger picture to achieve success. Specifically CIOs should understand how ITIL can help align technology with business, increase overall customer satisfaction and help make their organizations more ‘Open and Transparent’. That requires not just embracing ITIL, but also integrating an overall Open Government strategy into existing services.

Open government is more than simply adopting Web 2.0. Just as OCIOs embraced the internet, they must find ways to leverage Web 2.0 to create value for themselves, their business, and citizens. If Web 2.0 was created by internet-savvy citizens, then Open Government will be an inevitable, desirable and necessary goal for the OCIO’s of tomorrow.