The dotgovBuzz: A monthly Newsletter for e-gov Movers and Shakers

Volume 3 Issue 11: November 25, 2008

DotGov Spotlight: Tom Jarrett, CIO, State of Delaware

Tom Jarrett, CIO, Delaware

Tom Jarrett held his swearing-in as CIO at the local Harley-Davidson dealership, thundering up on a red, white and blue motorcycle for the ceremony. Right then, the crowd knew things were going to be different in Delaware government - even though the officiating judge opted not to wear the black leather robe made especially for him.

"Hardcore Harley people," Jarrett and his wife, have kept their motors runnin' and get out on that highway every chance they can. "It's more a way of life," he says of their travels over the past three decades, up and down the East Coast and throughout the Southwest.

Motorcycle view

Given his taste for adventure, there was probably no better man to affect the significant culture change that was called for by a gubernatorial IT task force. Shortly after becoming CIO in 2001, Jarrett dissolved the state's existing civil service Office of Information Services and remodeled it along the lines of a private-sector IT department. Although it raised eyebrows at first, the move has helped the state retain its highly skilled IT workforce, as well as its position atop the Brookings Institution's state e-government rankings.

Tom Jarrett has worked in Delaware for 35 years. He was raised in upstate New York in a "telephone family." His father worked at Bell Telephone for 42 years, and Jarrett worked there during the summer. After graduating from SUNY, with an engineering degree, Jarrett went to work for a telecom engineering outfit and was assigned to Wilmington, Del. For the next 28 years, he worked for Bell Atlantic-Delaware (now Verizon Delaware) contributing to the development and implementation of technology in the classroom. Among other things, he designed the fiber optic network used for the interactive distance learning system in several schools and managed the team that provided a high-speed network for all Delaware public schools.

In the late 1990s, Jarrett was asked to take on the role as Vice President of Government Affairs - a lobbying job. "It was kind of comical, I have no public policy background, but I had 20 plus years of customer service background. So my approach to the job was to learn the dynamics of my new customer - the governor." Governor Ruth Ann Minner was very interested in education, so was Jarrett's company, which helped him forge a relationship with her and with the state legislature. In 2001, she asked him to join state government as the CIO.

During his tenure, Jarrett has served as Vice President and President of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). He has also won numerous awards, being named to the 'Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers' list compiled by Government Technology magazine and received NASCIO's Meritorious Service Award for Outstanding Service for his advocacy and leadership in state government. In 2005, the Department of Technology and Information received a CIO 100 Award from CIO Magazine, the only state agency named to the list.

Tom Jarrett has enjoyed his nearly seven years as Delaware CIO and understands that he has a situation very different than most of his peers. "I probably wouldn't have lasted long someplace else," he adds. Coming into office with a mandate to reorganize the struggling Office of Information Services, it's been a joy to build the department from scratch with highly qualified people.

His "is the only IT organization in any state government that pays to the market," he says. "IT is a tough market and if you want good people, you have to pay reasonably well." Not surprisingly, his department has the lowest attrition rate of any agency in the state.

Jarrett expects Governor-elect Jack Markell will continue to make IT a priority. "He's technically the reason we're all here - he chaired the IT Task Force that put the recommendations on the table" to create the new Department of Technology and Information. Markell understands technology and anticipates that the use of technology to meet citizens' needs will continue to grow, Jarrett says. "Even though we're facing tough budget times, our workload could increase because our job will be to help agencies provide the services efficiently and make government more transparent."

Regarding efficiency and transparency, states and the federal government need to coordinate their efforts to serve the citizens, Jarrett says. "A lot of us are doing good things to interface with customers, but we haven't realized that we have the same customers- and that's a disadvantage," he explains. Delaware, one of the few states whose portal is managed in-house, has taken an aggressive approach to give a 'common look and feel' to its state site, which makes navigation so much easier, Jarrett says. "Whether a citizen is looking to license and incorporate a multi-million dollar business in Delaware, or simply buy a duck hunting license, the information is quick and easy to locate and retrieve."

Customers are also changing, Jarrett says. "We've seen it in this election with the younger generation. They want instantaneous information. They don't e-mail; they text because it's instantaneous." Speaking to high school students about technology last year, Jarrett saw what little regard they had for e-mail: "One young man said to me, 'My grandparents use e-mail.' That was like a knife in the heart."

He also noted that the younger generation wants to see things done differently: the students asked why voters weren't allowed to vote by texting. "That's a really good point I thought," Jarrett says. "We do mock elections with the schools and we hope in two years we can test their theory and see how it works to have votes texted in."

Jarrett expects that, in the future, government information will be accessible via many avenues. "We Twitter today. Who knows what we'll be doing tomorrow. It's all coming fast and furious."

Presidential Transition: launched and Plum Book posted online

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his new website,, as the site to turn to for the latest news, events and announcements about the presidential transition.

An interactive version of the Plum Book, the list of presidentially-appointed positions that usually change during presidential transitions, was posted to The jobs, grouped by state, may be viewed by clicking on a particular state on the map.

The number of filled and vacant Plum Book jobs will be tracked on the site in the future, the web site states.

GAO: Recommendations to incoming administration for IT improvements

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has a set of recommendations for the incoming administration to improve handling of cross-cutting issues in information and technology management.

IT management is one of the most pressing management challenges identified on the GAO's transition website, based on the agency's "institutional knowledge and broad-based nonpartisan work." Acquisition, real property, human capital and financial management, and results-oriented decision-making were the other key management challenges listed by the federal audit agency.

Noting that the federal government's "management and use of information and technology are not always effective," GAO calls for improvements "to ensure that taxpayer money is not ill spent and vital government missions are not compromised." Its recommendations for information technology fall into the following areas:

  • Better Managing IT to Achieve Benefits and Control Costs
  • Working with the Private Sector and Other Levels of Government to Protect Cyber Critical Infrastructures
  • Developing and Implementing Well-Defined Modernization Blueprints
  • Ensuring Privacy Protections in a Post-9/11 Environment
  • Ensuring Citizen Access to Government Information
  • Strengthening Controls to Ensure Identity Protection
  • Furthering the Exchange of Electronic Patient Health Information.

Issue Alert HSPD-12: Agencies make progress but fail to meet ambitious deadlines

When the October 27 final deadline for government-wide implementation of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) had passed, 1,593,191 federal employees and contractors (29%) had been issued the required interoperable, biometric identification cards, OMB reported October 31.

HSPD-12 was issued by the White House in 2004 to improve the identification and security systems that control access to federal facilities and computer networks. It sets a mandatory, government-wide standard that applies to all federal employees, contractors, and military personnel as well as federally controlled facilities and information systems, except national security facilities.

By September 30, 2008, background checks required by HSPD-12 had been completed for just 52% of federal employees, of whom only 37% had received a compliant smart personal identity verification (PIV) card. Reporting on the status of contractor credentialing was less complete, but indicated that background checks had been completed for 84% of contractors, of whom 14% had received a smart card. OMB summarized agency credentialing efforts in its regular quarterly report.

By October 27, half the agencies rated on the Executive Branch Management Agenda scorecard had met the goals laid out in their agreed-upon implementation plans. The Departments of Education, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, State, and the Treasury were among the successful agencies, as were EPA, NASA, National Science Foundation, OMB and the Social Security Administration. Agencies that had not achieved the targets agreed upon were told to submit plans to undertake corrective actions by November 17.

Meanwhile, on November 17, GSA issued a Suppliers Handbook setting out the policies and procedures for vendors who want to get their HSPD-12-related products and services evaluated for inclusion on the agency's Approved Products List.

The focus over the coming year will be on completing the background investigations and issuance of credentials, as well as implementing plans for leveraging the capabilities of the credentials, according to the OMB press release.


OMB was charged with managing the initiative, issuing governmentwide guidance, and ensuring compliance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued Federal Information Processing Standard 201 (FIPS 201) for personal identity verification for federal employees and contractors. GSA, as executive agent for governmentwide acquisitions to implement HSPD-12, created a FIPS 201 evaluation program to develop an approved products list.

HSPD-12 required the security industry to develop systems to create and read interoperable identification cards and other technologies. The result was a system that relies on smartcards that can be read either remotely or through contact with a reader. (Use of a reader is the only way to release the a card's biometric data—a photograph and two fingerprints—and then only after the user's PIN number is entered.) Agencies have had to leverage existing budgets to update computer systems, re—credential millions of workers, and replace security hardware at entryways across the country.

The original timeline for implementation of HSPD-12 required agencies to deploy HSPD-12 systems and hardware; require smartcards for all contractors and new employees by October 27, 2006; to complete background investigations and issue smartcards to all contractors and all federal employees who have been with the government <15 years by October 27, 2007; and to complete background investigations for all remaining employees by October 27, 2008.

Additional Information

The Federal Government's One-Stop Shop for ID Management

Government Smart Card Interagency Advisory Board

NIST's Computer Security Resource Center

Planning Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies

National Dialogue: Three thousand participate in NAPA's National Dialogue on Health IT

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) created a A National Dialogue on Health IT and Privacy between October 27 and November 3, and attracted 3,000 visitors representing all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide. The online discussion was sponsored by the Federal CIO Council, OMB and GSA and called on people to share their ideas and concerns about how to use IT to improve the way patients interact with the healthcare system, while safeguarding their right to privacy.

Discussion topics included electronic medical records, mental illness and patient ownership. NAPA is writing a report on the results that will be presented to the new administration and posted to in December.

State & Local: More than $3 billion in federal grants for community preparedness

The Department of Homeland Security released application guidance for FY 2009 preparedness grant programs. More than $3 billion in federal funding is available to state and local governments to help them strengthen their community preparedness. The FY 2009 programs provide $24 million more (or <1% more) than in 2008.

The targeted allocations for FY 2009, under the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative, will assist states and urban areas in writing investment justifications that reflect available grant resources.

The FY 2009 grant allocations are:

  • Homeland Security Grant Program - $1.7 billion. It includes these four programs: State Homeland Security Program ($861.3 million); Urban Areas Security Initiatives ($798.6 million); Metropolitan Medical Response System Program ($39.8 million); Citizen Corps Program ($14.6 million). Applications for these programs are due by March 20, 2009.
  • Transit Security Grant Program - $388.6 million. It includes the Freight Rail Security Grant and the Intercity Passenger Rail (Amtrak) programs. Applications for these programs are due January 13, 2009.
  • Transit Security Grant Program - $388.6 million. It includes the Freight Rail Security Grant and the Intercity Passenger Rail (Amtrak) programs. Applications for these programs are due January 13, 2009.
  • Port Security Grant Program - $388.6 million. Applications for this program are due January 13, 2009
  • Emergency Management Performance Grants - $306 million
  • Operation Stonegarden - $60 million
  • Buffer Zone Protection Program - $48.6 million. Applications for this program are due January 13, 2009
  • Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program - $48.6 million
  • Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program - $34 million
  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program - $15 million
  • Intercity Bus Security Grant Program - $11.7 million. Applications for this program are due January 13, 2009
  • Trucking Security Program - $7.8 million. Applications for this program are due January 13, 2009
  • State Homeland Security Program Tribal - $1.7 million.

State & Local: States increase transparency by posting financial information

Seventeen states have posted public, searchable databases of state financial information, in order to increase government transparency, according to a new information brief on transparency in government. State Finances on the Web, by the National Association of State Budget Officers, notes that the authority was granted either through legislation or a Governor's Executive Order.

Besides providing the financial information, some states have included a citizen education component on how the budget process works, major budget drivers and the sources of revenue for the state's budget.

The brief includes examples from Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

Buzz: Mobile devices are preferred over PCs for accessing the Internet

More than 50% of consumers surveyed would rather access the Internet from a mobile phone or other device than a PC, an IBM study found. The study surveyed 600 consumers in the United States, China and the United Kingdom, during the third quarter of 2008, on their preferences regarding mobile Internet.

The number of worldwide mobile-phone users is expected to climb to 5.8 billion people by 2013, and communication, travel, navigation, news and information services are expected to increase significantly in popularity over the mobile Internet, the study explains.

Other findings from the survey:

  • By 2011, 39% of the respondents will increase Internet use on their mobile device by 40%.

  • 71% of respondents expect to increase their use of communication services: obtaining maps, directions, instant messaging, social networking, e-mailing and reading the news from their mobile devices. However respondents would rather bank, trade stocks, shop and conduct general searches on their computers, rather than on their mobile devices.

  • Mobile Internet was most appealing to respondents in Generations X and Y.

  • Respondents are very loyal to preferred brands for communication services, such as e-mail and instant messaging; they weren't as loyal to brand-name entertainment services.

  • A large-screen high-resolution internal memory and quick speed data transfer are the most important features for mobile devices, respondents said.

E-Gov Scorecard: Two agencies improved their E-Gov scores

During the fourth quarter of 2008, which ended September 30, only four agencies' E-Gov scores changed on the President's Management Agenda Scorecard.

The Departments of Homeland Security and Interior had E-Gov scores that improved to yellow, while the Department of Energy's score fell to yellow and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's score dropped to red.

Of the 26 agencies that were scored, six received an E-Gov score of red, 14 received yellow and six were green. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the Social Security Agency again received green scores in all five categories.

Kudos:'s Public Officials of the Year, EC3 Excellence Awards, Apps for Democracy Winners

Apps for Democracy. The District of Columbia announced the winners of its 'Apps for Democracy' contest that challenged citizens, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to develop new software applications to make the government's data more accessible and useful for the general public and government.

Two 'gold' winners and six 'silver' winners were named out of 47 submissions. The gold winners were: and D.C. Historic Tours.

Public Officials of the Year. Dan Lohrmann, Chief Information Security Officer for the State of Michigan was named as one of's 2008 Public Officials of the Year.

Excellence Awards. The Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (EC3) announced the winners of its 2008 Excellence Awards in three categories that recognize innovative e-government programs with improved government services.

  • Innovative Use of the Web in Government Management Practices:
    • - Rhode Island Certificate of Compliance Product Label Renewal;
    • - The California Department of Justice Prescription Monitoring Program Information Exchange
  • Innovation in Protecting the Privacy and Integrity of Citizen Information:
    • - Transportation Security Agency Registered Traveler Central Identity Management System;
    • - State Portal and Payment Processor Security Initiative
  • Innovation in the Use of Social Networking to Enhance Citizen Involvement in Government:
    • - Governor Mike Beebe's Information Network of Arkansas.

Awards Nominations: Deadlines for e-gov community awards applications

Federal Computer Week is accepting nominations for its 2009 Federal 100 Awards program until December 12.

The Cgov Community of Practice is accepting nominations for its 2009 Government Customer Support Excellence Awards until December 1.

Transitions: Changes in the IT Community

Changes in the IT Community

Also available in pdf 52 kb

Transition Picks:

Changes in the IT Community

Upcoming Events Calendar

Green Computing Summit
Washington, DC
December 2-3

Web Manager University: Government Web Analytics 101
Online Webinar
December 3

The Council of State Governments Annual Conference
Omaha, NE
December 4-7

Web Manager University: Hands-On Social Media - Everything You Need to Get Started Using New-Media Tools
Washington, DC
December 9-10

National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council Annual Conference
Seattle, WA
December 10-12

AFCEA Solutions Series - CyberSpace/CyberWarfare
Washington, DC
December 10-11

Collaborative Expedition Workshop: The Science of Science and Information Policy
Ballston, VA
December 17

Social Media for Government
Ottawa, Ontario
February 9-12, 2009

FOSE 2009
Washington, DC
March 10-12, 2009

GSA's IRMCO 2009
Cambridge, MD
April 19-22, 2009

ACT/IAC 2009 Management of Change Conference
Norfolk, VA
May 31-June 2, 2009

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