Trump issues order to strengthen CIO role at U.S. federal agencies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is signing an executive order on Tuesday designed to improve U.S. government information technology by strengthening the role of chief information officers at federal agencies, administration officials said.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks to Marine One to depart for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit first lady Melania Trump after she had kidney surgery from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In December, the White House said the government required a major overhaul of its information technology systems as well as needing to protect data better and accelerate moves toward using cloud-based technology.

The order on Tuesday seeks to address some of those issues by giving agency CIOs authority similar to that of their counterparts in the private sector, making it easier to attract high-level talent for government technology jobs, one official said.

“These become real CIO jobs that are analogous to what the CIO of a Fortune 500 company would have,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

“That’s going to up the ante, not just for this administration, but frankly for all the administrations that follow to recruit the best talent into these jobs,” he said.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has spearheaded the White House’s IT efforts. In a statement given to Reuters, he said the executive order would help make the government more efficient and accountable.

“President Trump is drawing on the best practices from the private sector and empowering CIOs to lead the technology transformation at their agencies,” he said.

The order gives agency CIOs greater hiring authority and ways to bring qualified staff on quickly in emergencies, the administration official said.

The federal government spends $90 billion annually on technology. The new order “substantially” impacts the management of that money, he said.

The official did not attach a cost to the executive order but said ensuing moves to overhaul U.S. IT systems would save the government billions of dollars in the long run by consolidating data centers and moving to cloud-based services.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Cynthia Osterman