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VA CIO Touts Benefits of Centralized Budget Authority

VA CIO Roger Baker, Photo: va.gov

As the federal government reforms IT acquisition, one of the main provisions has been beefing up the authority of agency chief information officers.

CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs Roger Baker has been an exemplar of the kind of agency-level CIO the administration wants to see more of.

Spurred on by his successes, the plan for federal IT reform proposed giving federal agencies more budget authority, especially when it comes to commodity technology, such as email, infrastructure and cybersecurity.

The last of these, Baker said recently, is very important.

Beyond cost savings, Baker said a “centralized” budget and operational authority help agencies fight cyber threats, according to a Federal Computer Week report.

Speaking at a FedScoop cybersecurity summit in Washington D.C., last week, Baker said the current approach simply doesn’t make sense, because an agency’s networks are all connected. Dispersing budgetary authority means the agency’s security is “only as good as its weak link.”

In this respect, he added, the government lags the private sector “by many years.”

Baker would know about centralized budget authority. He is one of the few agency-level CIOs to wield such power. But, it didn’t come easily.

With a $2.5 billion IT budget, VA was “failing big time,” before the CIO was granted expanded authority, he told Federal Computer Week.

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