Former Microsoft COO: Intelligence overhaul means crushing 'fiefdoms'
Otherwise, efforts to revamp government agencies could fail, he says
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. intelligence community has "effectively missed the information and communications revolution of the 1990s," according to Bob Herbold, retired executive vice president and chief operating officer at Microsoft Corp. And he said he knows exactly why: Cultural fiefdoms at various intelligence agencies have grown large and powerful, and have even allowed new fiefdoms to grow within them.
According to Herbold, the 9/11 Commission and the U.S. Congress -- both of which have called for a major overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community to help improve information sharing -- are up against a formidable enemy.
Herbold recently completed a book about the topic called The Fiefdom Syndrome, and his comments come as the Bush administration and Congress work to reshape the nation's intelligence gathering abilities.
"Fiefdoms emerge when individuals and groups seek to make themselves as independent as possible and work to protect their turf and reshape their environment to gain as much control over it as is possible," said Herbold. "This behavior stems from the inclination of individuals and groups to become fixated on their own activities, their own careers, their own territory or turf to the detriment of those around them."
Those who create fiefdoms become dangerously insular, losing perspective and awareness of what is happening in the world outside of their own control, Herbold said. "They lose their ability to act consistently on behalf of the greater good, [and] they are determined to do things their own way, often duplicating or complicating what should be done organizationwide," he said.
Such cultural issues mean the 9/11 Commission and its backers are likely to fail or at best only partially succeed in fostering real reform, according to Herbold. He sees indications that this is happening already.
"President Bush quickly asked Congress to appoint a national intelligence director, but without any authority to hire, fire and set budgets of the individual intelligence fiefdoms," said Herbold. But the current intelligence community fiefdoms likely remain secure, knowing that there will be numerous committees and subcommittees, all of which have authority over homeland security, fighting to protect their fiefdoms.
Two recent government reports shed light on the problem (see story). The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general last month issued a report concluding that the agency's CIO didn't have the political clout needed to pull together an enterprise architecture integrating the IT systems of the 22 agencies within the DHS.
And a separate report -- made public this week -- by the Government Accountability Office found that the DHS is still struggling to put together a plan to pulltogether its IT assets.
With those issues in mind, a series of congressional hearings this week focused on how major organizational changes to the nation's intelligent community might work (see story).
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools
- The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution
- In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- Pragmatic Endpoint Management: Empowering an SMB Workforce in the Age of Mobility
- Lacking the time for proper training and education, SMB administrators often resort to taking shortcuts to keep their environment running.This paper discusses the...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security
- The market for application security testing is changing rapidly. Technology trends, such as mobile applications, advanced Web applications and dynamic languages, are forcing... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts