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Senate CIO

Think you've got tough customers? J. Greg Hanson serves 100 U.S. senators, dozens of committees and staffs in 50 states. And about that upcoming inauguration ...

By Kathleen Melymuka
October 11, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - About a year and a half ago, the leadership of the U.S. Senate decided to raise the profile of IT at the Capitol. They wanted to provide direction, update technology, elevate awareness and improve customer service. To accomplish that, they invited J. Greg Hanson to become assistant sergeant at arms and the Senate's first CIO. "When you get a call like that, the only correct response is yes," Hanson says.
Since then, he has faced many of the same challenges encountered by CIOs everywhere, as well as some that are unique. Hanson told Kathleen Melymuka about his job, where "every day is a surprise."


You're the CIO; what does your other title mean? In the Senate, all technology is managed out of the sergeant at arms office, so I'm an assistant sergeant at arms.

Are you a political junkie? No, definitely not. I'm not a tech junkie either. I'm interested in delivering tools and solutions to help senators accomplish their missions. I look for ways to use technology to solve business problems, not for technology's sake.

What kinds of positions did you hold previously, and in what types of organizations? Prior to here, I was CTO at Universal Systems & Technology, a high-tech company in Northern Virginia. Prior to that, I was CTO at Telos Corp. We grew that company and spun off some new companies, and I did some CIO work in some of the subsidiaries. Prior to that, I had a 20-year career in the Air Force, and I was in technology the entire time.

Some CIOs consider themselves technologists first; others consider themselves primarily business people. Where do you fall along that spectrum? I've got very, very deep tech expertise; I've got a Ph.D. in computer science. But in my entire career -- from the Air Force through my time in the commercial world -- it's been clear to me that technology is a tool. It's a wonderful tool that can give you advantage if you use it correctly, but it's a tool to make bigger, more important things happen. I consider myself a business person before a technologist, even though I still teach a graduate course in technology at the University of Maryland.

J. Greg Hanson, assistant sergeant at arms and the Senate's first CIO
J. Greg Hanson, assistant sergeant at arms and the Senate's first CIO
Image Credit: Katherine Lambert
How big is the Senate IT group? I have about 500 people reporting to me. Two hundred fifty to 300 are full-time government employees; the rest are contractors. But IT at the Senate is even bigger. To get it done right requires a team that


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