Keeping Focus on Mission IT at ODNI CIO

February 19, 2011
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I’ve previously written about some of the challenges of IT support in the national security space. Leaders have to balance competing mandates of mission support and security and have to do that in an environment constrained by resource limits and slowed by layers of oversight. One of the most challenging positions in the national security space is the CIO job at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This position is complicated because it is mandated to drive change over organizations where budgets and missions are frequently under competing pressures. It takes really savvy professionals to make a positive difference in this environment.

One of my favorite IT leaders just departed after an incredibly successful stint there. Priscilla Gutherie held this appointed position during a time of incredible chaos and she brought sanity and created an environment of continuous improvement. Priscilla is a leader with class and an ability to hold knowledge of huge enterprise architectures in her head. I think that comes from her experiences as a program manager and VP at TRW and her system engineering experience, but part of it is just because she is smart. Many of us were concerned when her tour at ODNI was up since we need mission focused thinkers like her in positions like the ODNI CIO. Little did I know, but the person the President named to fill her shoes would be Al Tarasiuk, a person who’s career has demonstrated, again and again, an ability to focus IT on mission needs to get things done (I’ve previously written about Al here: http://ctovision.com/2008/08/cia-it-leaders-are-world-class-it-leaders ).

Thanks Priscilla, on behalf of all of us who know what you did.

And thanks to you Al, for accepting the challenge of a position few others could tackle. We all wish you the best of luck as you address this very dynamic/challenging position.

Below is the text from the ODNI press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ODNI News Release No. 5-11
February 16, 2011

From: http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20110216_release.pdf

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO APPOINT NEW CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

President Barack Obama announced today his intention to appoint former CIA Chief Information Officer Al Tarasiuk as the chief information officer of the Intelligence Community.

“Al is well known for his leadership in information sharing and intelligence integration, and his experience, distinguished career and dedication to duty will greatly benefit the entire Intelligence Community,” said Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.

Tarasiuk served as CIA’s CIO from 2005 to 2010, and was director of the CIA’s Information Service Center prior to that.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Master of Science from The George Washington University.

The CIO’s office is responsible for establishing common information technology standards across the Intelligence Community and for directing and managing all IT related procurement for the IC. The CIO is also tasked with developing IT architecture to support information sharing policies and objectives throughout the Intelligence Community.

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Here is Al’s bio, from http://www.afceadc.org/events/bios-presentations/bio-al-tarasiuk/

Chief Information Officer
Central Intelligence Agency

Al Tarasiuk was appointed the Chief Information Officer of the Central Intelligence Agency on 1 October 2005.  His responsibilities span CIA’s global IT enterprise.  Before becoming CIO, Mr. Tarasiuk was the director of CIA’s Information Services Center.  In this role, he had responsibility for development, deployment and operational support of the CIA global information technology infrastructure.  Mr. Tarasiuk reports directly to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and is a member of the CIA Corporate Board.

Mr. Tarasiuk began his career in the federal government in 1986 as an electrical engineer developing and implementing RF systems.  He advanced quickly as a technical manager, program manager, and senior executive, serving in roles of increasing responsibilities and providing strong leadership, vision and delivering strategic IT solutions.

Mr. Tarasiuk holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a M.S. in Engineering Management from the George Washington University.