A few weeks ago I was in Madrid, discussing about the consolidation and cost containment program that the national government has in place, not unlike those in other European countries. As soon as I landed, I went to a lovely dinner with the then-CIO of the tax agency, Domingo Molina. The Spanish Tax Agency has been historically quite advanced in the use of IT and they were among the first to launch an on-line tax filing service. Little wonder that now that Spain is looking for somebody to take the rein of government IT across the country, the choice has fallen on Domingo Molina himself. During dinner I was favorably impressed by his ability to listen, his very concrete views about the challenges ahead and a tendency not to brag about himself, something that other people in such positions tend to do. As the Spain-wide CIO had not yet appointed, I asked whether he would consider that, and he gave me a diplomatic answer confirming he was happy with his current job. What I told him makes me smile now: I suggested to stay where he was, as the whole-of-government job is tough and sometimes short-tenured, especially when the exact boundaries of his authority are not clear. However Domingo struck me as a person who would not give up on a challenge, so I am pretty confident he is a very good choice for the country.
The evening after I had dinner in Lisbon with Paulo Neves, the President of AMA, an organization that is responsible for overseeing IT in the public administration. He was appointed over a year ago, coming from the private sector, and has been put in charge of implementing a 25-point program for cost containment (Council of Ministers Resolution n.º 12/2012 – Global Strategic Plan to Rationalize and Decrease ICT Costs in Public Administration), which is quite tough and urgent. Paulo too is a person who accepts to be challenged, who listens and ponders before explaining his strategy and tactics. While he has been given significant powers in vetting IT spending across the whole government, he has taken more of an advisory approach, to help different departments better understand and articulate their priorities.
Both these professionals, with significant careers respectively in the public and the private sector, have raised to a major challenge. It is quite clear to me that they are driven by a genuine desire to do the right thing and help their respective countries at a difficult time. There is little political consideration or careful planning of their next step, but the willingness to make a difference.
I wish them both the best in their important and challenging endeavors.