Why Would Someone Want to Be OPM CIO?

OPM is looking for a new Chief Information Officer. That raises the question – Is it a job worth having?

The Office of Personnel Management is looking for a new Chief Information Officer. That raises the question – Is it a job worth having?

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The Cons:

  • The breach. Enough said.
  • Everyone will want to tell you what to do and why what you are doing is wrong. OPM has a very active Inspector General’s office that is staying on top of information technology issues.
  • The House and Senate will hold more hearings and the CIO is likely to be called to testify.
  • There will be more demands than there are dollars to address them.

The Pros:

  • It is a challenge. Many people thrive on taking on big problems and solving them. OPM presents an opportunity for a highly motivated and capable individual to take the lead in solving a big, hairy problem. Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert is clearly pushing change at OPM.
  • It is a public service. The consequences of the breach will be with us for a long time. The nature of OPM’s work is such that it will always have a tremendous amount of sensitive information. That is part of the territory for HR organizations. Ensuring OPM has the right tools and the right security is important, and the CIO will play a vital role.
  • The attention means it is far more likely OPM will get more resources to address the problems. Virtually everyone who has any knowledge of the situation at OPM prior to the breach tells me that they did not have the resources and the CIO did not have clear authority over the agency’s IT. I believe that has changed or is changing.
  • OPM wants an innovator. OPM’s job announcement is very clear – they are looking for a change agent.

Given those pros and cons, the answer to the question depends on the person. Someone who wants a cushy job where they can coast to retirement should stay away. This is not the right job. Someone who is a highly skilled IT innovator and leader and who wants a challenge and an opportunity to do real public service will want the job. It is a great opportunity and the right person can truly make a difference. Go for it.

This column was originally published on Jeff Neal's blog, ChiefHRO.com, and has been reposted here with permission from the author. Visit ChiefHRO.com to read more of Jeff's articles regarding federal human resources and other current events along with his insights on reforming the HR system.

About the Author

Jeff Neal is author of the blog ChiefHRO.com and was previously the chief human capital officer at the Homeland Security Department and the chief human resources officer at the Defense Logistics Agency.