Responding to a question from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on July 15, U.S. Chief Information Officer offered sage advice to his successor: “Focus on execution.”
“If you had five minutes to tell your successor what he or she most needs to pay attention to, to maintain the progress that you’ve started and to achieve the other things need to be achieved going forward, what would that advice be?” asked Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
“Make sure that the blueprint that’s been laid out in the IT Reform Agenda, to continue to execute on that. The hard work has been done. Now, it’s a question of making sure that, as we look at federal IT, it’s not immune to the laws of entropy. Everything will move towards disorder. Make sure there’s a huge focus on execution. The challenge that I’ve seen and it’s the biggest pitfall I believe, that too many people come to the White House, and they have a self-image that they’re only going to focus on policy and not on execution, and I think what ends up happening is you end up with a lot of great ideas but nothing gets done. So what we’ve tried to do … every single day, I would sit down with agency CIOs and push them in that direction. My advice would be be aware of entropy and make sure you really, really focus on execution, not just only policy, because it’s very sexy and interesting to attend countless cybersecurity meetings where nothing is actually happening, but you need to roll up your sleeves and get some work done. “