Geospatial Information Officer for DOI? Chief Technology Officer for the Nation?

Two things of possible interest: The first is a discussion of the implications of a possible appointment of a Geospatial Information Officer (GIO) for the Department of the Interior.  Joe Francica and Adena Schutzberg explore two questions: is there time to find the right person? And, what should be the role of a GIO for such a large agency?

The second  is an interview with Vint Cert on the need for a national technology policy, on the question to centralize or not to centralize, and the possibility of a national Chief Technology Officer.

Podcast: A GIO for DOI

“Last week Secretary Kempthorne announced plans to appoint a Geographic Information Officer, or GIO, for the Department of the Interior. After having a week to ponder the announcement, our editors raise some practical and political questions about the position and who may fill it.”

For podcast, visit:

Source: Joe Francica and Adena Schutzberg, Directions Magazine, August 12, 2008

See also NSGIC commentary on GIO for DOI:


Towards a National Technology Policy

“A final excerpt from my conversation with Vint Cerf (previous bits here; I’ll get the whole thing online soon, with a shorter version set to appear in the print mag). Here, Cerf discusses the need for a national technology policy. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an architect of the internet, he believes a relatively decentralized approach would work best.

When it comes to national policy, I worry about the idea of trying to centralize everything. The Washington tactic is, when there’s a problem, you appoint a czar, and the czar is responsible. It’s like the War on Drugs, or the War on Poverty. But it never quite works like that, because the economy is highly distributed, and our entire governmental structure is highly distributed, so what you’re looking for, more than centralizing, is to infuse our very distributed environment certain postures and principles that will influence people’s decisions, whether it’s a company CEO or a policy-maker somewhere in the government structure, whether it’s local or state or national.

An example of a posture that I’d be very pleased to see would be increased attention to technical input into policy development. We have lost a great deal of that input over the course of the last eight years.

I’d like to see visible evidence of the reconstitution of bodies providing technical input to policy makers. A small example would be the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, PITAC, that President Clinton put in place. I’m a little biased because I served on the committee, but what I observed in the course of my time on that committee is that it had a very strong drawing power, convening power to bring together people from various parts of the government who were particularly concerned about information technology and its further development.

And the consequences of the committee deliberations had what I thought was direct effect not only in policy decision in the executive branch, for example in the research area, but also helped influence thinking at the legislative level. The committee went out of its way to brief members of Congress and staff about issues that had come under the purview of that committee. …”

For full text of the article, visit:

Source: Ed Cone, CIOInsight, on August 28, 2008

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