The Business of Government Hour

 

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The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

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Join the IBM Center for a weekly conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

Carl Staton interview

Friday, May 16th, 2003 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Carl Staton
Radio show date: 
Sat, 05/17/2003
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Intro text: 
Technology and E-Government...

Technology and E-Government

Complete transcript: 

May 6, 2003

Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Lawrence: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, the co-chairman of The IBM Endowment for The Business of Government. We created the endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion in research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the endowment by visiting us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org.

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation this morning is with Carl Staton. Carl is the Chief Information Officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Good morning, Carl.

Mr. Staton: Good morning, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo. Good morning, Tom.

Mr. Romeo: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Carl, could you give us some more information about NOAA. Perhaps you could describe its mission and activities for our listeners.

Mr. Staton: Thank you, Paul. Let's start with my bottom line: NOAA is one of the best investments for taxpayer dollars in the Federal Government, in my personal opinion. That said, NOAA is a science, service, and stewardship organization, a phrase that I think best summarizes NOAA for the nation.

NOAA is an environmental science agency. We provide useful and important services to the citizens of the country and to the economy.

NOAA's stewardship of coastal and marines estuaries, and marine sanctuaries, and many fisheries, and marine mammals, is also very important, and we do a very good job with those activities. As a result of all these things, I kind of like to say, "NOAA is in your day, every day." We literally have a hand in just about everything that goes on with our environment, on and near the earth. And we'd like to say, "From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the sun" is the sphere of activity that NOAA is involved with.

As an example, one of the first things that people think about when they get up in the morning is the weather. NOAA's national weather service has hundreds of meteorologists working every day around the clock to provide the basis of our weather forecasts. And they provide the official watches and warnings for all the activities that go on in our environment around the country.

The National Weather Service also provides our hurricane forecasts. And hurricane season is going to be starting here shortly, and so there are a lot of people around the coasts of the country that will be tuned in to NOAA for the hurricane forecasts.

The weather satellites that NOAA operates provide satellite imagery of our weather and our environment, both of the continental Unites States, but globally. We have two series of satellites: we have a geo-stationary satellite system which provides continuous coverage of basically the western hemisphere. Then we have polar orbiting satellites that orbit the globe continuously, taking imagery and observations around the world. Data from both those satellites are very important the activities of NOAA that we do.

We also provide services for the protection of life and property by having forecasting and project services for weather and climate events, such as tornado warnings; I mentioned hurricanes; droughts; and solar events.

It's true; NOAA is the official forecast agency for space weather. Not too many people realize that. Solar storms can wreak havoc on satellites. And in our electronic age, that means that one powerful solar storm can damage a satellite and cut off services to millions of people for their telephones, their TV, their paging services, as well as routine expected services, like your credit card purchases, or your ATM machine rely on satellites in many cases. And if those satellites disrupted or damaged, those services are interrupted. Solar storms can cause electrical power plants to see surges, and if not prepared, can result in major power outages. So our forecasts can help the operators of the satellites and the power stations have some preparedness in the event of a major solar storm.

The NOAA satellites also captured the first images of the burning oil fields in Iraq, for example. And each day they track events around the world.

They also track activities like volcanoes, dust storms, forest fires, sea surface temperature, and other global severe weather activities. NOAA research provides the bases of the science that goes into much of what NOAA does, and they also explore the world's oceans. For example, just last year several famous shipwrecks were discovered by NOAA explorers. And the gun turret of the Civil War Ironclad USS Monitor was raised from its watery grave with NOAA's support.

We also found the World War II Japanese Imperial Navy Midget Submarine near Pearl Harbor. And I believe some people are using that to confirm the fact that the United States Navy fired the first shots of the war on that submarine.

We also respond to oil spills. We have a HAZMAT unit that has been around the world responding to oil spills. We've recently had NOAA Ocean Service experts sent to Spain to help with the oil spill there. And we now have our experts on the scene at of the oil spill at Buzzard's Bay in Massachusetts.

NOAA's also responsible for the protection of the nation's oceans, including marine sanctuaries and wetlands. NOAA's fisheries work to protect hundreds of marine species, such as sea turtles, right whales, salmon, and dolphin.

NOAA also conducts leading research in our atmosphere and climate, which affect people all around the world.

Basically, NOAA helps the American people every day, and benefits millions of people around the world with its science, service, and stewardship. And you can exploring NOAA, if you'd like, at www.noaa.gov.

Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about your office, the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Mr. Staton: My office has some primary responsibilities with NOAA. I'd like to say that the CIO's office bridges the gap between the technology aspect of information technology and the business of information technology.

Some of the things that we specifically do, we provide and establish the policy and the enterprise-wide coordination for NOAA's comma services and functions for information technology, sometimes referred to as IT Infrastructure. For example, we are responsible for the IT security within NOAA.

We have the NOAA computer incident response team as part of my office, to respond to and IT security incidents that may occur.

We are also responsible for coordinating networking telecommunication and messaging on an enterprise-wide basis for the organization. We also have policy regarding our web and internet activities.

We do also a lot of the administrative coordinating and reporting for NOAA for things such as the Federal Information Security Management Act, or the GIPR Activities, or OMB data quals, et cetera.

We also do the coordinating responsibilities for the Information Quality Act, other wise known as Section 515. And we have done the coordination within NOAA and helped out with the Department of Commerce as well in the Coordination of Disability Acts, or otherwise known as Section 508.

My office is also the proud parent of NOAA's Homeland Security Activities. We are the coordination and focal point for our homeland activities within NOAA and for agencies outside the organization.

We also have a responsibility for the High Performance Computing and Communications Program within NOAA. We are the program managers of that program.

And it is responsible for developing leading IT research for High Performance Computing and Networking Activities. So those are the basic activities that we do in my office.

Mr. Lawrence: Could you give us a sense of the number of people you have in your organization, and the skill types?

Mr. Staton: Well, we're authorized to have 36 staff. We're not quite up to that staffing level right at the moment. But to support the activities that we were just talking about, the skills ranges are very broad. We require administrative skills. We require certainly computer specialists type skills. We have people with telecommunications skills, and engineering skills. We have supervisory skills. And, believe it or not, we also have people, although we don't have legal lawyer type positions, we have two people on staff who have law degrees, and who make significant contributions to a lot of the administrative activities that we do. So we have a very diverse skill set within the organization, which is, I think, essential and required for us to meet the needs of NOAA.

Mr. Lawrence: Carl, can you tell us a little bit more about your specific rolls and responsibilities as the CIO?

Mr. Staton: I believe that a prime roll that I have is to manage NOAA's expectations for managing IT. And I need to do that both up, across, and down the food chain, if you will: up the food chain, which by that I mean within NOAA and within the Department of Commerce. I manage expectations to try to get the resources and set the policies that we need. Across and down the organization, I manage those expectations to implement the policies and procedures that we put in place. And implementing across and down the organization also allows us to set the responsibilities and identify the accountabilities for all the things that people need to do within the organization.

I also chair a CIO council. NOAA is a fairly large organization, and we have CIOs within the major components of NOAA. And we form a council. And I chair that council. And that is the principal IT management coordinating body within NOAA.

I'd like to use those two things: managing expectations, and chairing the CIO council, to say that that should result in, if I'm doing my job correctly, to insure that our IT investments are based on sound business cases, have performance measures, and that we are meeting those performance measures. They are on schedule, and within cost.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. We've got to go to a break. Rejoin us in a few minutes so we can continue our conversation with Carl Staton of NOAA. What's High Performance Computing, and why does it matter? We'll ask Carl for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Carl Staton. Carl is the Chief Information Officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. And joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo.

Mr. Staton: Thanks, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Carl, can you tell us a little bit about your career before coming into your position. I know you've had a long career in government, and specifically in IT. What kind of experiences prepared you for your current job?

Mr. Staton: Well, we can go back to the beginning of time here. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. At the time that I got that degree, it was one of the few universities in the entire country that was actually offering a degree in computer science. My degree actually says "computer science" on it, and other peers that I've known graduating at that time, their degrees either say "electrical engineering", or "mathematics", or something to that effect, because that's how you got your computer experience. So I feel I was very fortunate to be in a program that focused and identified computer science as a discipline at that time. So I believe that got me off to a very solid start in IT.

Out of school, I went to work for the private sector. I wanted to go into Federal Government at the time, but the jobs weren't there at the time. So my first job out of college I did simulating nuclear power plants. We built trainers for training nuclear power plant operators. And so we wrote the code that would simulate the functions of a nuclear power plant. That was a very, very fun job. I enjoyed that a lot. And again, it was a good, solid start to an IT career by having a job right out of college that you really enjoyed.

From there I moved on and went to work for a service company that had a contract for NOAA. And for that service company, I did data processing of information -- imagery and data, actually -- from the geostationary environmental satellites that were flying at that time. And that got me very interested in NOAA as a Federal agency. That's where I got my exposure to NOAA. And, in 1979 I went to work for NOAA. And I've been with NOAA my entire Federal career. And I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mr. Lawrence: Can you give us a sense of some of your different jobs at NOAA? How does one become a CIO?

Mr. Staton: Okay. I kind of came up through the mill, if you will. I started as a staff position. I then moved -- had that decision point in many people's career, of either staying in a technical branch, or going into the management branch. I opted to go into the management tract, or branch, if you will, and I became a branch chief. From that position I became a deputy division chief, again all within the same organization in NOAA. And I stayed basically with that organization for about 19 years.

And then I had an opportunity to take a position within the National Weather Service. And it was January of 1999, is when I came into the National Weather Service. And that was to be the manager of the Central Operations Group for the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. And we had the responsibility of overseeing and managing the super computer that is used for the National Weather Service operational forecasts.

I was in that job for a few years, and then had the opportunity to take on the responsibilities as the National Weather Service Chief Information Officer. That was my first entry into the world of CIOs at that point. From there, I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to move on to become the NOAA CIO. Some that was sort of a management tract, if you will, that has led me to my current position.

Mr. Lawrence: In the first segment, and you kind of just mentioned it again, you talked about High Performance Computing, and you mentioned the NOAA High Performance Computing and Communication Program. Could you tell us about that?

Mr. Staton: Sure. I would be glad to. That program is a research program for high end computing and state-of-the-art communications. The primary goal of the program is to support information technology research and development that enables NOAA to improve its products and to provide greater access to the vast holdings of real time and historical information to our users.

Another goal of the HPCC Program is to improve the technology used by customers for access to critical data. The program led the way as NOAA moved from older vector computers to modern, high end, massively parallel computers. We also led the way for the agency to move onto the next generation internet through the Internet II and the Abilene Connections. So we've brought opportunities to help NOAA make these technology transformations, if you will. And that's the primary purpose of the program. Some of the things that that's enabled us to do, NOAA has a large number of weather radars around the country, and we collect those data and we want to provide those data a central repository. Through the efforts of this program, we've been able to demonstrate the use of High Performance Networks and Internet II for collecting this data and making it available to researchers at universities and our archive facility in near real time, which had been a tremendous asset to the organization.

Mr. Lawrence: There's a lot in the press these days about High Performance Computing, and if I were to sum it up at a broad level, it seems as though speed matters in this area. But acquiring computers can be very expensive, and there's a trade-off. So I'm curious about your perspective on this conversation.

Mr. Staton: Speed is a parameter, and cost is a trade-off. NOAA's acquisitions are based on the principle of cost/performance, or price/performance. We state our requirements in definable terms, performance measures, if you will. Vendors will then propose to that, demonstrate that they can meet the performance that we've set forth, and meet the costs -- and meet our funding. So our core requirement is a price/performance competition. So, yes, speed is important.

Other factors are important as well. Support functions are important. Development tools are important. Storage is important. Access speed is important. So we combine all of those, and that combines to give us what I feel are some of the most competitive procurements in the industry today.

Mr. Lawrence: What is the Office of Policy, Planning, and Analysis, and how does that provide policy guidance for planning, developing, and implementing NOAA IT resources?

Mr. Staton: That's our office that does coordinating throughout the organization. We pride ourselves, and have as really as a business practice, coordinating across the organization. To set policies that are effective and that people are going to follow, you need them to buy into the policy. And a key roll that this office does is to get that buy-in by coordinating with the people that need to implement the policy and are going to be affected by the policy.

Managing expectations, as I mentioned earlier, is another aspect of that. For almost any given policy that you implement, be it IT security or web content, or what have you, there are going to be people who don't like it, or may disagree. If you manage their expectations, tell them why you're doing it, and why it's important, the vast majority of the time they understand and will accept it. So it's an important aspect of that group's function to manage those expectations.

Mr. Lawrence: Security also is an important aspect these days. How does your office insure the security of NOAA's IT systems?

Mr. Staton: We take security very seriously, and it's probably one of our top priorities within the office. We have several things that we do to insure that. We have the NOAA computer internet response team, which has monitoring capabilities for major components within NOAA, and they are continuously looking for hostile probes and other activities. And they respond if there has been a compromise somewhere.

They also coordinate within the organization the implementation of patches for vulnerabilities that are identified when patches come out. We also coordinate with the IT security officers within the organization.

The IT security officers form a committee that reports to the CIO council. And it is through that committee that we develop our IT security policies, which usually stem from those that the Department of Commerce has issued, and sometimes those issued by OMB as well. So, again, it's a coordinating type activity that we do for our IT security policies. The net effect is, we have a fairly solid IT security posture within NOAA.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. We've got to go to a break. Come back in a few minutes. We're going to continue talking management with Carl Staton of NOAA. How do CIOs collaborate? We'll ask Carl for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Carl Staton. Carl is the Chief Information Officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. And joining us our conversation is Tom Romeo.

Mr. Romeo: Carl, can you tell us a little bit more about NOAA's E-Government initiatives? For example, what is NITES, or the NOAA Information Technology Electronics Store?

Mr. Staton: Quickly, NITES is a service to consolidate various contracts, such as blanket purchase agreements, and make it easier for NOAA's staff to acquire applicable IT resources. It's also a way to leverage bulk purchasing to get the best price for the various IT services that we need. So it's an internal efficiencies method within NOAA.

But as far as E-Gov is concerned, in general NOAA actively participates in several of the OMB E-Government initiatives. Specifically we participate in the Recreation One-Stop Initiative, the Geospatial One-Stop Initiative, Disaster Management, and e-Grants.

I've always considered NOAA a shining example of electronic government. Much of what we do and the services we provide effectively and efficiently uses IT. We need networking; we need computers to do our jobs.

NOAA data contributes substantially to the ranking if the Department of Commerce as one of the highest Federal data volume providers on the internet. For example, in March of 2003 Commerce was ranked fifth among Federal agencies. And that was based on the parameter of unique audiences by the Nielsen ratings. Of that, NOAA was two-thirds of the total Department audience. And by itself NOAA would have ranked eighth amongst all Federal agencies of data being provided on the internet. So I think that's a testament to how NOAA is really leading in E-Government.

Mr. Lawrence: Carl, let me try and ask you some of your thoughts on current trends in technology. Where do you sit in the debate between standard "off-the-shelf" or caught software versus custom software?

Mr. Staton: I think our position is similar to most in government and in industry. We see neither of these as a unique opposite for which we have to take a preference. Rather, we look for the best solution available to a given problem.

Off-the-shelf software is important, and where applicable is generally less expensive and more broadly functional than customized software. However, some problems are unique. By that I mean there is no commercial market or business case to have a custom product. And so that requires custom software.

On the issue of proprietary versus open source, we're very neutral on that. True competition in the marketplace requires us to select our solutions not on some philosophy but on a cost benefit basis. So that's how we approach those things, and caught software and custom software can compete, if you will, equitably in that environment. And we use our business case to determine the best solution for us.

Mr. Lawrence: Carl, you mentioned earlier the NOAA CIO council. Can you tell us a little bit more about their roll and responsibilities?

Mr. Staton: The CIO council, as we've mentioned, is comprised of the CIOs of the various major components of NOAA. We are the governance body for IT within the organization. We set and approve our policies.

We also look at and manage funding levels. The budget for my office, for example, is coordinated through the CIO council.

The CIOs also comprise the main body which reviews the IT programs within the organization. OMB has very comprehensive, detailed guidelines for reviewing IT programs, and it is the NOAA CIO and the CIO council that has that responsibility to do that.

Mr. Lawrence: So is that the NOAA IT review board, or is that a separate --?

Mr. Staton: We reconstitute ourselves as the NOAA IT review board. The IT review board is meeting the review functions of the Department of Commerce and OMB: to insure that IT programs have a business case; that alternatives have been properly analyzed; and we have picked the best solution; the funding is appropriately used; there are specific performance measures; we are not duplicating activities.

Mr. Lawrence: How do you coordinate with other CIOs in the Department of Commerce?

Mr. Staton: The Department of Commerce has its own CIO council. I'm a member on that, as well as the other NOAA CIOs. NOAA represents a significant portion of the Department of Commerce's IT activities, and therefore all of the NOAA CIOs participate in the department CIO council.

At that level, we have very good information exchange and coordination, best practices are shared, and through regular monthly meetings and a yearly retreat that we have we are able to exchange ideas, do coordination, look for areas where we can consolidate and not have duplicate type of functions. So we use the department CIO council as the prime means for doing that coordination within the Department of Commerce.

Mr. Lawrence: Is there much duplication, given the different missions of the bureaus?

Mr. Staton: There is little duplication, if any, within the organization. We've done, I believe, a very good job in not duplicating those kinds of functions. I'm sure we can still find a few here and there, but we are continuing.

Mr. Lawrence: How about in terms of your relationship with the department CIO?

Mr. Staton: Department CIO Tom Pike I've known for many years. We began our professional relationship back in the late '80s, in what was then the National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service. So Tom and I know each other well, and we have good communications, and I have a lot of respect for his IT expertise. He's the most enthusiastic person that I know when it comes to IT, and his enthusiasm is very infectious.

He's very supportive of what we do within NOAA. He was the NOAA CIO prior to myself, and he has continued to demonstrate good IT leadership within the department. And I have a lot of respect for him. With that, we can sit down and talk about anything. And that has been a real blessing.

Mr. Lawrence: So in terms of just as for a drill on this organizationally, you report directly to the head of NOAA, and dotted line to the CIO. I mean, describe the relationships in terms of --.

Mr. Staton: Technically speaking, I report to the Deputy Undersecretary for NOAA, which is the highest career position within the organization. That is my direct supervisor. I do have a dotted line report to Tom Pike as the Department of Commerce CIO, and Tom does provide some analysis and assessment of my performance as a CIO to the Deputy Undersecretary.

Mr. Lawrence: Now how about, just to kind of keep going, other CIOs across government, how do you interact and coordinate with them?

Mr. Staton: Well, we participate in several activities. For example, on the Federal CIO council, they have an architect and infrastructure committee. We have a representative on that. They are looking at enterprise architectures at the Federal level. And we have our enterprise architect within NOAA is representative on that committee.

We also participate with the Office of ScienTechnology and Policy Interagency Working Groups for networking and information technology, particularly dealing with research and development. That was the group that participated in the development of the next generation internet initiative.

And we are currently participating on the High End Computing Revitalization Task Force that OSTP is running. So we have exposure to CIOs in that area as well.

Through the coordinating of the various E-Government initiatives that OMB is sponsoring, we have involvement with CIOs from the other participating Federal agencies on all those activities. We have lots of opportunities to work with the other CIOs across the organization.

Mr. Lawrence: That was my observation based on your description. So I'm curious: do have any lessons learned in terms of effective collaboration and partnerships?

Mr. Staton: My experience goes back to what I was talking about in doing the CIO job within NOAA, and I believe it applies in all these areas, working with the department CIOs and other agency CIOs. And that is managing the expectations of those CIOs, both in what you can provide to them and what you're expecting there. If you manage those expectations, you can get a lot of things accomplished.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. We've got to go to a break. Will you join us in a few minutes as continue talking about management with Carl Staton of NOAA? What does the future hold for NOAA? We'll ask Carl for his thoughts when The Business of Government Hour returns.

Learn how the Bureau of Primary Health Care in the Department of Health and Human Services created a national network of local organizations dedicated to improving access to health care by reading the recent Endowment report: "Extraordinary Results on National Goals: Networks and Partnerships in the Bureau of Primary Health Care's 100%/0 Campaign", by John Scanlon. For a copy of this report, and other Endowment reports, visit our website at: www.businessofgovernment.org, or call us at (703) 741-1077.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Carl Staton. Carl's the Chief Information Officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. Joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo.

Mr. Romeo: Thank you. Carl, you mentioned a little earlier that NOAA has its own research group. Can you tell us a little bit about what they do and how technology plays into that?

Mr. Staton: NOAA research provides the underpinning science for the various activities within NOAA. They have research in the science that supports our operational forecasting, they do research for development of new observing systems in terms of the sensors that we use to measure particular parameters and how are those parameters best used within the activities of NOAA. They have technology research in looking at various technologies of some advanced computing technologies, for example. And in many of those areas, they are also a catalyst for getting what we call the transition of the technology from a research environment into our operations. And they play an important roll in that activity as well.

And again, as NOAA as a science agency, the research is very important to sustain what we do and to continue to make progress and improve the services that NOAA provides.

Mr. Lawrence: When you were describing the mission of NOAA and the different activities that NOAA dealt with, I was curious about how you measure the success or the performance of NOAA in these activities?

Mr. Staton: NOAA is a performance-based organization, and we are continuing to improve upon that. NOAA is developing a new strategic plan which reflects NOAA's basis in performance. It has a great number of performance measures within that plan.

Going to the bottom of the activities, as we develop our initiatives, particularly our IT initiatives, those initiatives need to have the business case. They need to have their performance measures. And those performance measures need to link up to the NOAA level. And that's the challenge that we're facing in the organization.

The NOAA CIOs have a lead roll in stepping up to that challenge, because it is in many cases difficult to take the performance measure of an IT, a computer system, and link it to a broad NOAA level performance measure. But that's the challenge, and we are doing that.

Mr. Lawrence: Another issue that's very prominent these days is Homeland Security. Can you talk a little bit about NOAA's roll in Homeland Security?

Mr. Staton: As I mentioned earlier, NOAA's Homeland Security activities are in our office. And our primary responsibilities are things internal to NOAA's Homeland Security, our continuity of operations, et cetera.

Another facet of that is the NOAA capabilities that are available for Homeland Security incidences, making sure that those capabilities are available to the country when they are needed. For example, the north satellites are an important component for our Homeland Security. Some of the services that NOAA provides are important to our Homeland Security: weather forecasting; aerosol dispersion.

We have modeling for HAZMAT type activities, which has a Homeland Security component in it. We need to make sure that those capabilities are available to the country if they are needed. And so we are involved with insuring that those things are available.

Mr. Lawrence: Overall, how has the new and emerging technology changed the way NOAA does business?

Mr. Staton: I think new and emerging technologies -- this may sound a little strange -- have not really changed the way NOAA does its business, because NOAA has been conducting its business in an integrated dependency and expectation of using new technologies. So we really haven't changed. We've always looked toward new technologies, examined new technologies, and where they have been applicable, we have used them. So it really hasn't changed the way that we do our business. And again, as I said, NOAA is a science and the technology based organization.

Mr. Lawrence: What are the next challenges on the horizon for the agency and IT in particular?

Mr. Staton: So many things. But I'm going to go back to our previous discussion and say that I think the next challenges are in developing our performance measures. We will continue to have challenges to use the taxpayers dollars most effectively to improve services that NOAA provides. An integral part of this is continue and expanding our performance measures. I think we've been a leader in that.

The National Weather Service has been recognized as an agency that manages by its performance measures, and we need to continue to do that across the organization. So, in that regard, I think the challenge for NOAA is sort of in the management end of things of the IT and in the development of these performance measures.

Mr. Lawrence: You've described an organization that has a very skilled work force, tremendously technical in nature. So I'm curious, are you worried about everybody retiring like the wave is supposed to, or shortages of these type skills?

Mr. Staton: That is a concern. There are a large number of NOAA employees who are eligible to retire in the next five years. And so, in our NOAA strategic plan, the managing of human capital, which is of course a present management agenda item, is a key component. And succession planning and the developing of new leaders is an important aspect of our program. So we recognize that and we are addressing it.

Mr. Lawrence: As you look out, what's your vision for the NOAA CIO Officer for the next five to ten years?

Mr. Staton: I think the office needs to be the cornerstone of service for NOAA's IT infrastructure, particularly IT management and IT security. We need to be an essential part of the NOAA management and structure, and process, which we are today. We need to continue to do that. Combining these things will make NOAA synonymous with good technology to our customers. Our customers will look at us and say, "NOAA is using good technology." And I see my office as being a change agent, if you will, for that within the organization.

Mr. Lawrence: I guess your last question is, you've had a long and distinguished career in Government. I'm curious, what advice would you give to, say, a young person interested in possibly a career in public service?

Mr. Staton: I'd say, "Go for the gusto." Public service is one of the most rewarding careers going, in my opinion. I got into public service, really, based on my father, who is a career Federal employee. And he clearly walked the talk, if you will, when it came to public service. And he was a tremendous inspiration to me. It is a very satisfying career. If you're already in if you're a young person already in the Federal workplace, some things to suggest that kind of helped me in my career, is look for and use a mentor. It's really one of the best tools that you can have. You should plan to move around, gain new skills. It is very important, even within the Federal government today, to have multiple skill sets so that you can move around. And don't listen to the naysayers regarding public service. It's really one of the best things going today. And if you're in there, very good. I wish you all the best of luck. If you're not, I really hope you would consider a career, and hopefully a career in NOAA. And if you want to look for those opportunities, again: www.noaa.gov.

Mr. Lawrence: Carl, I'm afraid we're out of time. That's a good ending point. Do you want to say the website one more time?

Mr. Staton: That's: www.noaa.gov.

Mr. Lawrence: Tom and I want to thank you for being with us this morning.

Mr. Staton: Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Tom.

Mr. Romeo: Thank you, Carl.

Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Carl Staton. Carl is the Chief Information Officer at NOAA. Be sure and visit us on the web at: businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs. You can also get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation. Once again, this is: www.businessofgovernment.org. This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.

How has Baltimore's CitiStat Program improved the performance of its city government? A recent Endowment report entitled, "The Baltimore CitiStat Program: Performance and Accountability," by Linneal Henderson, discusses this CitiStat Program. This program was designed to increase the performance of Baltimore City Government by requiring agencies to generate data on key performance in human resource indicators, which has been reviewed by the Mayor's staff every two weeks. The report presents the history of CitiStat, and how Baltimore Mayor, Martin O'Malley, implemented the program within the Baltimore City Government. Henderson presents case studies of how Baltimore's Department of Housing and Community Development and Department of Health are using CitiStat to improve management and accountability within those two departments. The report concludes that the program is a highly successful innovation in the management of city government, particularly as it integrates accountability for resources generated from federal, state, and local government. The report also contains recommendations on how CitiStat process can be improved and simplified for broader public use. For a copy of this report and other Endowment reports, visit our website at: www.businessofgovernment.org, or call us at (703) 741-1077.

Carl Staton interview
05/17/2003
Carl Staton

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