Outgoing Commerce Department CIO pushed to shake up the federated model

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When Simon Szykman became CIO of the U.S. Department of Commerce in May 2010, he inherited a federated IT organization that needed to improve its efficiency and effectiveness on multiple fronts. So Szykman applied his strategic vision and consensus-building skills to make progress in both areas.

Now he’s looking for new challenges; he announced early this year that, after serving four years as Commerce CIO, he will leave the public sector to work in private industry.

What was your biggest achievement during your tenure at the Commerce Department? Commerce is a federated agency with a number of independent decision-making organizations with regard to IT spending and spending in general. Since I’ve been here, there have been dramatic changes in how IT is managed departmentwide and a realization that the decentralized approach wasn’t going to be the most efficient or effective in terms of cost or quality of services.

What prompted the move away from the decentralized approach? It was a growing recognition of best practices coupled with a belt-tightening fiscal environment. The inefficiencies that were in place prior to my tenure were becoming less and less tolerable in the fiscal climate we were dealing with.

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