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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Gloria Parker interview

Friday, August 9th, 2002 - 20:00
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Gloria Parker
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Sat, 08/10/2002
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Gloria Parker
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Arlington, Virginia

Friday July 19, 2002

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. � I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the co-chair of The Endowment for the Business of Government. � We created The Endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new methods to improving government effectiveness. � Find out more about The Endowment by visiting on the web at endowment.pwcglobal.com. �

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who's changing the way government does business. � Our conversation this morning is with Gloria Parker, chief technology officer of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. �

Good morning, Gloria.

Ms. Parker: Good morning. � I'm happy to be here this morning.

Mr. Lawrence: Thanks for joining us. � Also joining us in our conversation is another PwC partner, Debra Cammer. �

Good morning, Debra.

Ms. Cammer: Good morning, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Gloria, most people probably have heard of HUD, but I'm not sure that everyone would know the breadth of its activities. � Could you describe its mission and activities for us, please?

Ms. Parker: Sure. � HUD's mission is to provide a decent, safe, and sanitary home and suitable living environment for every American. � We do that through our programs of creating opportunities for home ownership. We also provide housing assistance for

low-income persons. � We work to create, rehabilitate, and maintain the nation's affordable housing, and we enforce the nation's fair housing laws, as well as helping the homeless and trying to move the homeless from their situations into decent housing.

We also are focusing on spurring the economic growth in distressed neighborhoods, and we do that through some of our grants and initiatives. � Finally, we are very focused on helping local communities meet their own development needs. � So that's pretty much what HUD is about.

Ms. Cammer: Gloria, as the first chief technology officer at HUD, could you describe for your listeners your main responsibilities?

Ms. Parker: My main responsibility is to ensure that HUD is utilizing information technology in the most advantageous way in order to support the mission of our agency. � I'm responsible for not only the operations of IT at HUD, which of course includes the whole infrastructure and the networks, but I'm also responsible for the capital planning process, IT investment management, as well as our e-government strategies and implementation, IT security, and our enterprise architecture, which we have recently folded into our capital planning process.

Mr. Lawrence: How big is your team?

Ms. Parker: We have about almost 300 HUD employees, and approximately throughout the infrastructure somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 contract employees.

Ms. Cammer: You've also served as the chief information officer for the Department. � What are the key differences between your role as a CIO and a CTO?

Ms. Parker: Well, both of these positions are extremely important, and they really complement each other. � As you know from the Klinger-Cohen Act of 1996, the CIO reports directly to the head of the agency. � At HUD right now, the CIO as a political appointee has direct access to the Secretary.

This is extremely important, because HUD needs to view IT as a very integral part of doing business and supporting the priorities of this administration. � So this day-to-day close interaction assures us that we're providing the correct technical solutions for the business problems of HUD.

My role as the CTO is to plan, guide, and execute HUD's information technology programs and working directly with the now-CIO. � We work together to ensure that all of our IT strategies and goals are in line with the administration's goals to achieve HUD's mission.

Mr. Lawrence: Gloria, I know you've had a very interesting career. � Could you tell us about the different experiences you've had?

Ms. Parker: Yeah, I have had a great career. � I started my career in 1975 with the IBM Corporation as a systems engineer trainee. � While at IBM, I worked in several industries. � I started my career in the banking industry. � Although it sounds like I'm going to date myself, I was responsible for some of the first ATMs that went into the banking community. � I also at IBM worked in industries such as utilities, higher education, insurance, and learned a lot in those industries.

While at IBM, I also moved from systems engineering into marketing and enjoyed a very productive career in marketing. � In fact, while I was there in the marketing arena, I won or was awarded IBM's Golden Circle Award, which awards the top 1 percent of all the marketing people in the country for IBM.

I taught entry marketing training to the new reps and engineers coming into IBM. � I did that stint in Dallas, Texas. � I moved into first-line management, systems engineering manager, and then eventually as a marketing manager and account executive.

Throughout the last few years of my career at IBM, I spent time managing very large organizations across regions and across the country, such as telecommunications, � and industry sectors such as higher education, and health care.

I decided to leave IBM and start my own business, and that was an interesting venture. � I think in retrospect, when I do that again, if ever, I will be more focused on the types of businesses I want to get involved in, but it was a very fruitful time and I learned a lot.

As a result of my work in that environment, I moved on into Tandem Computers, worked there for about 18 months before a person who I had trained and developed at IBM who became a White House fellow while working in my organization within IBM, eventually became a political appointee in the Department of Education, and he needed an IT director at Education.

He called me, and I had never served in the public sector before, nor had I worked in any public sector environments. � So my first reaction was no. � But I taught him well at IBM. � I taught him how to be persistent, and so as you can imagine, based on my teaching and mentoring him, he was able to woo me into the government. � I came into the Department of Education as the deputy CIO, and that was the end of 1994, the beginning of 1995.

At the Department of Education, I had a great time putting in place my vision for IT at the Department of Education, and then eventually moved over to the Department of HUD to become their CIO. � That was in 1998.

Mr. Lawrence: What was the transition like from leaving a private sector organization and coming to government?

Ms. Parker: I had not really had any experiences in the public sector, so I really didn't understand the bureaucracy, I really didn't understand the language, and I needed to really understand the mechanics in how things worked. � I clearly learned that very quickly, but I think that one of the major positives that I saw in moving to the public sector was that I was able to bring a lot of knowledge and skills that I developed at IBM. �

IBM invests very heavily in training and developing its employees. � As a result, there were many, many benefits that I was able to bring to the Department of Education.

While working at the Department of Education, because of my background and experience, I was able to put a whole new vision in place for IT at Education and actually saw that vision being carried out. � That was extremely fulfilling for me.

I tend to look at the public sector as an opportunity for change, and I am a change agent. � When you're working in an environment where you actually can see your ideas become reality, it's very rewarding. � So that was one of the positives in the transition.

Mr. Lawrence: Is it harder to change in the public sector than the private sector?

Ms. Parker: If you don't change in the private sector, you are not able to keep up with the market, you can't keep your margins, you can't keep your market share. � So you're constantly changing and competing. � But government at the time that I came in was ready to change, and I think one way I can look at it is, just about everybody in the private sector eventually becomes a change agent whether they want to be one or not. � The public sector is not quite that fluid, so coming into the public sector for me was really an opportunity to literally see my own efforts causing major and significant change, as opposed to the constant change that in my opinion that goes on in the private sector, typically put in place by the corporation itself or just the market itself forcing change.

Mr. Lawrence: Often people describe the long time it takes for the government to change and the frustrations that come from not being able to see things through, and yet you're saying you were able to accomplish these things in what appears to be a relatively short amount of time. � How did you do this?

Ms. Parker: I said I brought a lot of skills from IBM, and one of the skills, having been in marketing at IBM and having marketed to executives while at IBM, we learned how to influence people to make better decisions and to understand the benefits of information technology and why change was necessary. � There's not a lot of marketing that goes on in the public sector, and I believe that my ability to market to the principals in the agencies where I've been and help them to understand the overall benefits of the investments in technology and the changes and the vision that I have put in place, it helped me to gain their support and to begin to move my vision forward.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. � Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue our conversation with Gloria Parker of HUD. �

How do citizens benefit from e-government? � We'll ask Gloria when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. � I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and today's conversation is with Gloria Parker. � She's the chief technology officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. �

Joining us in our conversation is another PwC partner, Debra Cammer.

Gloria, we've all heard about e-government, but how would you define it, and how does it relate to how HUD is fulfilling its mission?

Ms. Parker: E-government is the interchange of value, including products, services, and information, through an electronic medium. � It includes interactions and relationships between government to citizen, government to business, government to government, and internal efficiencies, government to employees. �

E-government supports the fulfillment of HUD's mission by leveraging electronic commerce to promote healthy homes and viable communities, and e-government enables HUD to provide value-added services while empowering its citizens, its business partners, and its employees to transact business with the Department in a virtual environment. �

I look at e-government as no different than e-commerce in business. � It in fact is the same thing, except that commerce is referred to in the business community and government is referred to in the public sector community. � But in all cases, it is our ability to move our products, values, and services in an electronic manner.

Ms. Cammer: Could you talk some about HUD's specific initiatives around

e-government, and then maybe also some about what HUD's doing to work with Mark Forman on his initiatives at OMB?

Ms. Parker: Actually, I can answer both of those questions together because they are very, very closely related. � First of all, prior to the e-government initiatives led by Mark Forman, HUD had already put in place an e-government strategic plan. � The neat thing about our strategic plan in my opinion is that that plan centers on three aspects of

e-government. � One, of course, is our ability to serve the citizens and how e-government at HUD will impact the citizens. � The second area is how e-government at HUD will impact on our business partners and those people that we work with. � Then finally, how e-government is going to impact on our employees, so for the internal efficiencies of HUD. �

Mark Forman's program is doing the exact same thing. � The difference is that we looked at those areas of business for HUD, whereas Mark Forman is looking at those same areas of business for all of government. � So as a result, we started out by looking for

e-government opportunities within HUD that we could begin business process

re-engineering efforts on and re-engineer the processes and then apply technology to those re-engineered processes in an e-government format. �

As a result of Mark Forman coming on board, he was doing the exact same thing, so we got involved in 17 of his 24 e-government initiatives. � HUD has a number of

award-winning e-government initiatives, including our travel management system, which of course, that is an initiative of Mark Forman. � It's being used as a best-practice model for the whole federal-wide e-government travel initiative. �

We've also been involved in the renewal communities and urban empowerment zones and enterprise communities, typically called RCEZEC. � That sounds like ET, but that initiative which allows HUD partners to apply for needed benefits to revitalize urban and economically deprived areas. � And our physical assessment inspection initiative enables the Department to receive electronic data on the appraisal of single-family homes, ensuring safe, decent, and affordable housing for the public.

So those are some of the initiatives that we are involved in within HUD, but those are initiatives that we're also working on with the Quicksilver initiative under Mark Forman.

Ms. Cammer: You've described a pretty wide spectrum of initiatives and

stakeholders that are actually using those initiatives within the Department. � How do you overcome some of those barriers around electronic government that your customers would face as you try to reach out to more people?

Ms. Parker: That's a real good question, because I think it's real important for people to understand that there truly are barriers, and to put e-government initiatives -- to implement those and not consider how to get to all of our citizens, that will be a problem. � So what we've done, first of all, is we've recognized that the digital divide must be overcome.

HUD has been very aware of this shortcoming and has implemented a national program called Neighborhood Networks, which began in 1995. � HUD supports the development of community technology centers scattered across the country. � These community technology centers provide access to computers, Internet access, and training. � Today in urban centers and rural towns across America, more than 1,000 Neighborhood Network centers are putting the power of technology in the hands of all people.

HUD also conducts a number of outreach efforts, such as electronic government assessments, focus groups, surveys, et cetera, to identify multiple information channels that will allow us to reach our customers. �

We also participate very heavily as part of the digital divide in the donation of computers, particularly in underprivileged areas where schools and students living in our public and Indian housing organizations can have access to computers that are good computers that normally would not be used any longer by the agency, but they are current technology and certainly suitable for schools and projects and things like that that students would want to use those computers for.

Ms. Cammer: You've been engaged in electronic government for a while now. � What kinds of feedback have you heard from your stakeholders as you'll rolled it out?

Ms. Parker: The stakeholders are very excited about their ability to deal directly with HUD online. � For example, citizens are now able to file online discrimination complaints directly with the Department, and HUD business partners, lenders and mortgage companies, are experiencing significant reductions in processing time.

We cut the FHA processes that ensure the mortgage loans; it was cut from many, many days to process those to just a matter of hours because of the simultaneous ability to do the processing and to do it online. � So our partners are also ecstatic about those kinds of initiatives that have helped us to enhance our processing time and promote efficiencies in delivering our services. � Public housing residents can now look up information on public housing authorities prior to applying, reducing the search time for obtaining public housing. �

So it's really benefiting the public as well as our business partners in those types of ways, and we've gotten nothing but accolades from the citizens that we've spoken to as well as our business partners on how the e-government initiatives have really allowed them to work better with HUD.

Ms. Cammer: In processing some of those loans through the system, I can't help but think you've heard some concerns around security of some of that sensitive information. � How have you addressed the citizens' concerns about that?

Ms. Parker: Clearly, we are very focused on security, and in the e-government environment, we're extremely focused on not only security, but privacy. � We have audited all of our systems to ensure that we have all the right security measures in place, and we have not had a problem with that. � I think that across the board, regardless of whether it's public sector or private sector, in the retail business, wherever, people are always concerned about security. � But I also have seen in the e-commerce world that more, more, and more people are overcoming their concerns about confidential information moving back and forth over the Internet. �

You can that in the way the numbers are going up in terms of people shopping online, doing banking online and all those kinds of things. � I think that as people become more and more sophisticated with computer technology, they begin to understand that security is a very important aspect of doing online processing, but also they come to understand that a good, strong IT organization has put the right measures in place to ensure security as well as to ensure privacy.

Mr. Lawrence: You've been involved in several e-government taskforces, which have looked at e-government projects across the government. � What are the most important best practices that you've observed?

Ms. Parker: The chief information officer's counsel has been very proactive and aggressive in advancing the President's vision for a citizencentric government through the expansion of e-government. � The most important best practices I've observed are those agencies that take customer-relationship management to heart. � Valuing and acting on the needs of customers is key to moving e-government forward, and executive leadership in support of e-government initiatives is also a critical success factor.

You'll see these qualities in any successful e-government initiative, and we've been fortunate enough to experience the executive leadership support, and in essence, the customer focus and customercentric direction that the e-government initiatives through Quicksilver as well as our own e-government initiatives at HUD have taken. � We are very focused on continuing to move towards being customercentric in developing those initiatives from outside to within, as opposed to from within and moving outside.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. � Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue our conversation about management with Gloria Parker of HUD.

Often, the answers to doing things better involves implementing new computer systems. � What kind of management challenges does this bring? � We'll ask Gloria when The Business of Government Hour continues.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. � I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Today's conversation is with Gloria Parker, the chief technology officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. �

Joining us in our conversation is another PwC partner, Debra Cammer.

Gloria, we've heard that HUD is in the process of implementing several large-scale commercial off-the-shelf or COTS package systems in areas such as finance and human resources. �� I'm curious in a couple of ways, why did someone implement these packages, and what are the management challenges surrounding them?

Ms. Parker: The reason we implement these packages is because government is moving away from having a feeling that we have to sit down and write or develop code for all these large systems. � That just doesn't make a lot of sense. � It's a very expensive proposition, and it reminds me of that phrase that people used to say, it wasn't invented here.

In the past, I think government felt that they had to always build their own systems from scratch because they felt that they were so unique that nobody else ever did what they did. � It only makes sense to understand that everybody does human resources and everybody does finance, and somebody has taken the time to build these systems. � It's a lot less expensive, a lot more efficient and productive for us to utilize those systems that are already out there.

So we focus very heavily on utilizing COTS packages to the extent possible. � In fact, a person at HUD will get grilled if they come in saying that they have to build a system from scratch. � We do a great due diligence in looking for solutions that already exist so that we can save time and money and increase our productivity by utilizing what is already out there.

For those types of systems, you understand I'm sure, that those are always the systems that get left behind; they tend to be the big behind-the-scenes operational systems that everyone depends on and everyone complains about, but when it's time to divvy up the money to say what are we going to focus on, all the really neat, sexy projects get the money and those always get the complaints because there's never any money to put on those.

So I am very excited about the fact that in our efforts, particularly in our capital planning and IT investment processes where we've looked at reducing duplication, eliminating duplication of systems, going to COTS packages, looking at opportunities to bring all of our organizations together and share data resources, money to build the systems that support HUD's mission, we have found opportunities to put more money into building up these systems that have always tended to be left behind and be a problem. �

So we use COTS packages, again, so that we can achieve the financial gains from utilizing something that already exists, and we are implementing these new systems so that we not only take care of those items that are out front, those projects or systems that are out front getting attention, but also those ones in the background behind the scenes.

Mr. Lawrence: You said something very interesting. � You said that things aren't unique, but everybody always said they were unique. � How did you overcome this gap?

Ms. Parker: I'm not sure I ever did. � I just keep telling them that I'm unique. � So many times, I really have to ask people to show us the difference, show us where your human resources efforts are so unique and different from somebody else's. � Tell me what's different. � We sit down and we go through little workshops and work sessions where we actually start mapping out the common things that take place, let's say, in human resources. Everybody has to get paid, job classifications have to happen, there are hiring processes you go through, et cetera. � So what's different about that from other agencies?

When you sit down and you really walk through those kinds of working sessions with the people who really understand those areas, you can eventually develop very common processes throughout those business functions that everybody does. � Yes, surely every now and then you're going to find some minor differences in something that one agency does versus another. � But my first objective there is to say do we need to change our business process as opposed to trying to change the software? � Why do we do things the way we do?

I also believe that it's that age-old, well, we've always done it that way. � Well, it's time to change, because now, we're no longer looking at what we've always done, we're looking at cost and efficiencies. � In looking at projects from that angle, you have to re-engineer your processes and you have to change the way you do business. � So we're teaching, we're negotiating, working through working sessions and getting people to sell themselves on the fact that maybe what they're doing is not that different from what everybody else is doing.

Ms. Cammer: I'm guessing that it's the users that think they're unique, and that it's the IT people who think that they can get away with this, and this is what you've said. � Could you talk about how you coordinate the two groups and what things you do when you're about to do an implementation of a COTS package within the Department? � Then, what are some of those management challenges that come up?

Ms. Parker: One of the ways we're structured in HUD is, we have a group, an organization within the office of the CIO, my office, which consists of all of our more technical project managers. � These project managers are involved in the technical aspects as well as the business process re-engineering efforts of the major applications for the business function areas.

Rather than us sitting in a corner saying this is what we think should happen, we always develop the working groups that is comprised of program area people to work with the IT people as an integrated project team, to decide what it is that we need to do and how we're going to change the way we're doing business.

It may sound like it's somewhat time-consuming, but that's the sale process, that's the buy-in process, that's where all those people with the differing views of what's going on bring all their views to the table to one place and work through those views so that as we move into the development and implementation of that new project, that all of those views are on the same page. � Then everybody works together from that point to come up with the final result that they've all understood is the result that they're trying to achieve.

So we never really go off in a corner and develop something without having the program people involved, they don't go off and figure out something without the IT people involved. � I think the key there is the integrated project teams, and those teams are responsible through the duration of that project to ensure the success and results that we've been able to develop and in essence sell to senior management.

Ms. Cammer: Speaking of the IT professionals, could you talk about the differences between the federal government and the private sector in terms of recruiting and retaining IT professionals?

Ms. Parker: In the beginning, the private sector had no problem recruiting IT professionals because they could pay the money, they weren't trapped into or locked into certain pay scales and those kinds of things. � They could give incentives, they could give cars, they could give stock. � They could do all those kinds of things that we couldn't do. � But I think that with the dot-com generation and what happened in that era, government became a much more attractive place for people to consider working because the market was so flooded with very special skill requirements and specialty skills during that time, and we were having a tough time trying to get people to look at government opportunities. � So those heavily skilled people were certifying in all of these areas and then they were going to the private sector where they could get the money and the stock, and they were going to the dot-coms and getting paid. �

Today the private sector I think is more challenged now to find or to attract good IT professionals because people are concerned, and government is having a little less of a challenge, although we're still challenged, we're having a little less of a challenge, because people are beginning to see the benefits of working in an environment that's a little bit more stable than what they may have experienced in the private sector during this particular time.

Now let me say, too, that regardless of whether it's the private sector or public sector, we have a situation that we're confronted with now with the retirement age, the retirement eligibility, and we are not producing the number of IT professionals out of the schools and universities today that we need to backfill all of the people that are going to be leaving the workforce very shortly. � As a matter of fact, if you look at government, you're looking at about a 60 percent or more retirement eligibility coming up over the next 5 years, and it's no different in IT. � I believe now that the private sector is beginning to experience some of that same challenge. �

So it's different in each environment. � I still think the private sector has an opportunity to pay more and they still have an opportunity to do things outside the box to attract people, but I think the stability of government is helping us to begin to attract more people.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point in this segment. � Rejoin us in a few minutes when we continue our conversation with Gloria of HUD. �

How is technology going to change the federal government? � We'll ask Gloria for her thoughts on this when The Business of Government Hour returns. �

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. � I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and today's conversation is with Gloria Parker, the chief technology officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. �

Joining us in our conversation is another PwC partner, Debra Cammer.

Gloria, in the last segment, you were talking about technology professionals and how they work at HUD. � I'm just curious, there's a lot of talk about competitive sourcing, perhaps outsourcing some functions, and I know people are thinking about outsourcing their IT functions. � Is that something that's ever been considered at HUD?

Ms. Parker: Absolutely. � Let me just go back to speak to the IT resources in HUD and how we're trying to bridge that gap to build the type of IT professionals we need in the HUD ranks, and then I'll talk about how that will relate to competitive sourcing.

Because we have a major challenge with the number of people that are eligible to retire, particularly in IT, we are utilizing some new programs that HUD has put in place. � Some of them are not new, but one is the federal career intern program. � We are actively right now hiring career interns that can come in and work alongside very experienced people who have institutional knowledge, and transfer those skills to the new people. � We're also utilizing presidential management interns to do the same thing and well-round their knowledge about HUD so that they can move into some of those critical positions. �

We're using our HUD upward mobility program to grow our own resources and to complement our ongoing recruiting efforts. � That's going to help us to bridge that gap in terms of people who are eligible to retire and leaving us without the resources we need. �

But let's talk for a moment, since you asked about competitive sourcing. � One of the things that HUD has already done is we've already outsourced, in my opinion, just about all of our IT resources. � We've kept all project management, contract management, the oversight of our project management and development, within HUD, and that's what we need these new HUD people to come in and do. � But in terms of running our infrastructure, running our operations, developing our programs, testing, implementing new programs, that's already outsourced, and we have a major contract that provides that service for us in HUD. � So in essence, I'm not sure there's much more in the technology arena that we can outsource at HUD, because, again, we oversee the development of our projects, but the actual application development is already done by contractors.

Ms. Cammer: Gloria, from your position as the CTO, what do you see as the top technology challenges facing the federal government in the new few years?

Ms. Parker: Clearly, the biggest one is IT security, and not just IT security. � Let me change that. � It's security, period. � One of the things that we're doing in HUD is we're putting in place a new security organization. � The IT security organization will

dotted-line report to that new organization. � We're focusing on all security as one entity. � But security will continue to be on the forefront of our brains, and we'll continue to expand all of our capabilities there. � We will continue to audit the program areas, security plans, and ensure that we're doing the right job of security.

We are in the process right now of implementing single sign-on, which is another major benefit or major advance that we're taking at HUD. � So we're doing quite a few things there, but it will remain a challenge.

We'll continue expanding our scope of e-government and we'll drill down deeper to provide better service to our customers and the public. � So e-government will become also, or has become, one of our key focuses at HUD. � Just the fact that it's one of the President's management agenda items says that it's a key focus for the entire federal government.

Mr. Lawrence: How will technology change the way HUD employees do their jobs in the future?

Ms. Parker: As part of the e-government strategic plan, we talked about efficiencies, and being able to re-engineer our business processes to make those more efficient and have a much better operation to increase or enhance our productivity, et cetera. � So today, I think that we are beginning to see a serious reduction in paperwork burden. � We are in fact meeting our paperwork reduction requirements. � The only way you can do that is to implement e-government strategies within HUD so that employees are moving more from paper-based functions to more electronic functions.

We have put a lot of information out on our website that our citizens can read themselves and understand themselves. � We put it out in kiosks so people in the neighborhoods that we serve the most can go right up to the kiosk and get their information. � That really reduces the number of phone calls and correspondence between HUD employees and the citizens. � As a result of that, it frees up the HUD employees to focus more on the mission of HUD and to put even better programs in place rather than to do things that the technology can do.

I have a philosophy about technology, and it's probably from being in the technology field. � I think that people are there to come up with creative ideas, to be change agents, to provide a vision and then oversee and implement that vision to make the operations better. � Those mundane, day-to-day operational kinds of things, technology can do that. � So let technology do what technology does best and save the human brain to create the visions and to oversee the activities and to focus on getting the results.

Ms. Cammer: You mentioned a good point, results, getting the results. � I'm wondering how you measure the success of your IT initiatives.

Ms. Parker: I'm glad you asked me that question because we have just recently revamped the whole way we measure IT. � We will not stop measuring operational IT. � We will continue to look at the availability of our systems. � We'll continue to look at the security of our systems and all those from an operational standpoint. �

But the most important thing that we can measure right now, in my opinion, is how IT actually impacts our ability to meet our mission. � When you're measuring whether the systems are up or how long they're up or what the throughput was, that really doesn't measure the impact that those systems have had on the mission of HUD.

Let me give you an example. � Let's say that, and this is just an example, this is not something that is real, this is just a hypothetical example, if there are people who are receiving benefits who are not qualified to receive those benefits, maybe because their income is too high or there are other requirements that they don't meet, then the question becomes how do we support the benefits programs that we have in a way that reduces or eliminates any abuse or fraud or waste that is happening in those programs. � If you apply technology to a problem like that rather than measuring the throughput of the technology, you want to be able to measure that technology has solved the problem.

So what we're doing right now is we're putting IT performance metrics in place that really look at the before, what were the issues that we were dealing with before, and then we put the new technology in place, and then we go back and measure after what impact has that technology had on the problem that the technology was put in place to fix. � So in the hypothetical example I gave, you should see if that system is doing what we expected it to and we're getting the results that we put that system in place to get, and the investment that we made is in fact a sound investment. � That means that any waste, fraud, or abuse in those benefit programs will be extremely minimized and hopefully go away as a result of the system.

So if we measure that, then we can show a clear impact on our ability to meet the mission of HUD and to handle our programs, and we know exactly what the impact technology has had on our ability to meet that result.

Mr. Lawrence: One last question in our time together today. � What advice would you give to a person considering a career in public service?

Ms. Parker: I think that public service is a very, very rewarding career path. � I've come from the private sector into public service. � I had no intentions of being here this long. � In fact, my plan was to stay around for a couple of years. � But the reward that I have seen or experienced myself personally in government is far beyond any expectation I ever had.

If a person is really interested in public service, I think that one of the best things that they can do is to visit some of the websites that the federal agencies have put up and just walk through and see the kinds of service and the kinds of products that are produced within the government and learn a little bit more about government and then begin to look for those opportunities. � There are plenty of opportunities. � It's extremely rewarding. � It's a very flexible environment for IT professionals. � It allows them to select a position in an agency that is of major interest to them that fits in their field. � We're doing a lot more training and education today of our IT professionals, and I think it's the best opportunity for growth and advancement.

Mr. Lawrence: Gloria, I'm afraid we're out of time, but Debra and I want to thank you for being with us today.

Ms. Parker: Well, I want to thank you all. � I enjoyed it.

Mr. Lawrence: Great.

Ms. Parker: Thank you very much.

Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation about management with

Gloria Parker, the chief technology officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. �

Be sure and visit us on the web at endowment.pwglobal.com. � There, you can learn more about your programs and get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation. � Again, that's endowment.pwcglobal.com. �

This is Paul Lawrence. See you next week.

Gloria Parker interview
08/10/2002
Gloria Parker

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