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Twenty years ago, federal agencies typically did not have senior executives leading key mission support functions such as finance, technology, acquisition, or workforce. These functions were largely seen as administrative transaction services. In the past two decades, reflecting trends in the private sector, Congress created a series of “chief” positions—chief financial officers, chief information technology officers, chief acquisition officers, and chief human capital officers. Performance improvement officers were recently added without the chief title.
These various chiefs come from different professional disciplines with their own preexisting communities and ways of defining success. The distinctiveness of these individual communities was reinforced by the creation of cross-agency chief councils, such as the Chief Financial Officers Council and the Chief Information Officers’ Council. These councils often spearheaded government-wide initiatives, such as the
CIO Council’s development of a comprehensive data-center inventory. Once identified, the number of data centers was cut in half, leading to greater efficiencies. The councils also shared best practices across agency boundaries.