In a move to modernize the U.S. federal government’s aging computer systems, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order “enhancing the effectiveness of agency CIOs" with a massive upgrade and management restructuring.

Senior administration officials said the overall modernization effort could be the largest enterprise IT transformation ever attempted, and one official reportedly described it as “a foundational step in a multiyear journey.”

In addition to addressing long overdue modernization efforts of hardware systems, the executive order does away with the current system of having multiple CIOs within a single agency, replacing that practice with a single CIO. The Department off Agriculture is a case in point, which until recently had 22 CIOs, each overseeing a different division. That agency will now have one CIO, and seven assistant CIOs to oversee specific services.

Regarding IT spending practices, the order noted that the federal government spends more than $90 billion annually on IT, and the vast majority of this is used for maintaining legacy IT infrastructure that’s “often ineffective and more costly than modern technologies.”

Modern IT systems would enable agencies to reduce costs, mitigate cyber security risks, and deliver improved services to U.S. citizens, the order said. While the recently enacted Modernizing Government Technology Act will provide needed financial resources to help transition agencies to more effective, efficient, and secure technologies, more can be done to improve the management of IT resources.

Department and agency CIOs generally don’t have adequate visibility into or control over their agencies’ IT resources, the order said, resulting in duplication, waste, and poor service delivery.

Enhancing the effectiveness of agency CIOs will better position agencies to modernize their systems, execute IT programs more efficiently, reduce cyber security risks, and serve the American people well.

President Trump is designating a strong role for agency CIOs, empowering them to act more strategically. Agencies will be able to more effectively leverage technology to accomplish their goals, cut down on duplication, and make IT spending more efficient.

The order is also designed to improve agency compliance with statutes, and requires agency CIOs to report directly to their agency heads.

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