Last week I visited a local government organization that had a change of political leadership. The CIO, a brilliant guy who had come from the private sector about a year ago, had been let go, and so did other key people with whom I had interacted lately. The meeting was for me to comment on their strategic plan, which I had read and – to be honest – hadn’t impressed me much, especially given the good reputation of that organization in managing and using IT.
Actually, the meeting was meant to be with one of the staff member who had been let go just a few days before, so I ended up meeting an infrastructure manager who is acting CIO. He is a capable person, with a very mild interest in discussing the plan. Actually, as I expressed a few doubts about the plan, he started griping about it, admitting that it was a patchwork from different people in the IT organization, some of which had left and some of which were probably not at the right level (i.e. too technical) to author such a document.
It was quite clear that priorities are tactical: figure out the budget and focus on keeping the lights on until a new CIO is appointed. I sensed that part of the new CIO’s mission will be to review, undo or change course to some of the initiatives taken by the previous administration.
Now, this is not at all unique, and it is part of the democratic process. But how come that, doesn’t matter where you are in the world, most of what a previous administration has done is bad? How much money has been and will be wasted in reinventing wheels or turning round holes into square ones? Given the amount of politically-driven change, it is remarkable that anything can be accomplished in government IT.
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