CIOs as City Managers?
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CIOs as City Managers?

Jason Brookins, MPA, CPM, Chief Information Officer, Department of Information Technology, Clayton County Board of Commissioners

Jason Brookins, MPA, CPM, Chief Information Officer, Department of Information Technology, Clayton County Board of Commissioners

If there is anything that the previous 24-months (plus) has shown us is that the public sector Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and information technology(IT) directors are ready to step up and assume command of an organization.  Gone are the days when the IT department is considered a mere afterthought regarding organizational efficiency and effectiveness.  In today’s public sector environment, the CIO is a trusted thought leader who understands not only what role technology plays in each department and how it can be used to engage the citizenry, but we have a deep understanding of the department’s operations, their vision, and goals, and (in many circumstances) how these things can be accomplished that are budget friendly.  Now every CIO is not created equally, nor do they operate in the same environment or even play with the same rules but given the broad exposure that we have and the insight that we can offer, the CIO should be considered prime candidates to move up into greater leadership roles.

Career paths will vary for IT professionals, with the demand for cybersecurity pushing professionals in that general direction, but for the public sector CIO, the desire to make an organization better and more engaging to the citizens ranks at the top of the list.  While this article may not speak for many public sector CIOs, public sector organizations (and executive recruiters) should strongly consider CIOs as having the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities that will lead an organization to success.  In many cases, we understand budgeting, human resource administration, public safety, and other governmental duties because we helped implement the systems that you use every day.  We are constantly searching for better ways to do the work of the people and we have asked the hard questions that make most organizations uncomfortable, “Why do you do what you do?”.

“Those in the planning and development sector have had their opportunity to shine and it is now time for the public sector CIO to have their moment in the sun.”

In my opinion, the time has come.  Those in the planning and development sector have had their opportunity to shine and it is now time for the public sector CIO to have their moment in the sun.  I see it on LinkedIn and in the public sector specific magazines that strides are beginning to be made but we need to stand up and shout it from the rooftops.  Public sector CIOs are professional public administrators and those organizations that have taken the time to invest in safety, security, citizen engagement and efficiency of operations should look inward to those that led these efforts.  Outside of normal public safety agencies, the CIO manages one of the larger budgets, must be constantly looking for ways to cut costs, and understand the difficulties that organization are going through to hire and retain staff.

Public sector CIOs are intelligent and capable people people (yes, I wrote that twice) that understand how to navigate the political terrain, understand how to act as a coach and mentor, understand how important peer relationships are and, above all, know how to get the work done.  Just ask us, we stand by, ready, willing, and able.

Weekly Brief

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