The Business of Government Hour


About the show

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.

The interviews

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

Stephen T. Colo interview

Friday, April 20th, 2001 - 20:00
Stephen T. Colo
Radio show date: 
Sat, 04/21/2001
Intro text: 
Stephen T. Colo
Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Arington, Virginia

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

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with government executives who are changing the way government does business. Our special guests today are Dana Brown, assistant director of administration -- welcome, Dana.

Mr. Brown: Nice to see you.

Mr. Lawrence: And Stephen Colo, chief information officer. Welcome, Stephen.

Mr. Colo: Glad to be here, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: And both are with the United States Secret Service. Well, Dana, let's start with you. Most of our listeners know about the Secret Service as the agency that guards the president. But could you tell us about its other responsibilities?

Mr. Brown: Probably the least known aspect of the Secret Service is investigative responsibilities. People might know about the counterfeiting and credit card fraud. But we also have other areas of expertise as well that go beyond just the simple, straightforward processes of counterfeiting and credit card fraud. We are involved in many other aspects. And increasingly, we're involved in the globalization of crime, as opposed to what might have previously been indicated as domestic issues.

Mr. Lawrence: And I'm also under the impression that it's no longer just people investigating. It's much more elaborate in terms of technology and the new sciences being brought to bear.

Mr. Brown: Oh, certainly. Technology has changed -- for all law enforcement -- how we do business. I think the computer in particular has now become the repository of criminal information, the means to facilitate a crime or strictly the instrument to commit the crime itself. So in many respects, computerization of criminal endeavor has made identifying the criminal and locating him or her, again, from the global perspective, much more difficult than it might have been in the past.

Mr. Colo: You know, I'm fascinated. I always love to tell this. I'm a little bit of a history buff. I like to talk about the history of the Secret Service. We were actually founded in 1865. And in fact, it was April 14th of 1865, when then-Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch came to Lincoln and said, 'we need to start a federal investigative service,' because at that time the Civil War had just ended, and about one third of the currency was counterfeit. And so Lincoln gave his -- he agreed to go forward with this initiative, just before he went to a performance at Ford's Theater.

So, the irony is that the man who created the Secret Service, which is best known for presidential protection, that night was assassinated.

Mr. Lawrence: That is an irony of history. Let's spend some time finding out about your careers. Could you tell us about your careers?

Mr. Colo: Well, actually, Dana and I, our careers are very much parallel. We both came on literally within weeks of one another, and we both were local police officers before we came into the Secret Services. Dana was a Fairfax County police officer, and I was a Metropolitan police officer.

And for myself, you know, my career has moved back and forth from the protective aspect and the investigative aspect of the Secret Service. I spent most of my investigative time at our three largest field offices, which were our Washington field office, our New York field office, and our Los Angeles field office. My protective responsibilities included assignments at The White House with President Bush and President Reagan. I ran the presidential campaign, not this one in 2000, but in 1996. So, I feel that I have had a pretty diverse career.

Mr. Lawrence: And, Dana, how about you?

Mr. Brown: As Steve said it, there are some parallels, particularly the time on the job and the different perspectives of our employment. I also had three field assignments. I've also been assigned to the presidential protection division. I also had a position in liaison at the time. I was the Information and Privacy Act's officer for the Secret Service. And then the inspection division has been probably the bulk of my career in investigations, and then most recently in the office of protective research, and then now in the office of administration.

Mr. Lawrence: In describing your careers, it sounds rather traditional in terms of my perception of what Secret Service folks do, and yet now you are leaders and managers of the organization. What prepares you for that?

Mr. Colo: Well, my job as the chief information officer is certainly unique within the Secret Service, especially as being an agent. And probably how I came about being chosen for this position was really what I did during the last campaign. And I was very interested in finding ways to be more efficient and effective with how the Secret Service moves people from location to location during a presidential campaign. So I helped create a logistical system that tracked their movements, was interested in the storing of information on CD-ROM, which hadn't been done before. So after I got done with that assignment, they kind of looked at me and said, "We have an assignment for you." So, that's how I became the CIO.

Mr. Lawrence: How about you, Dana?

Mr. Brown: Well, my position probably is a little bit the exception to most agents' career tracks, in that it is largely an administrative position versus a protective or investigative position. I think the one thing, though, that probably helped me in coming to the position is that I had a great deal of experience throughout the assistant director's offices. We have seven different offices, and I had been a supervisor in five of those. So if anything prepared me for the opportunity to have this position, it might have been that, the greater perspective.

Mr. Lawrence: What drew you to public service?

Mr. Brown: As Steve had pointed out, we're both law enforcement officers at the local level. I've always been interested in law enforcement. I had previously been in the Marine Corps, which at that point in time, given the Vietnam War, most -- not most of us, but many of the people from the Marine Corps gravitated toward law enforcement.

And once there, the opportunity to look at it from a federal perspective provided me the opportunity to do this. And it has been an excellent opportunity. It is such a great job, in that you get to look at two different phases of law enforcement for us, which one is the protective and investigative, which is kind of unique in law enforcement. Plus the opportunities to travel and other things as well have been exception and extraordinary. And being in government in general has been a very good thing.

Mr. Colo: I would probably have to parallel what Dana has said. I think we are both children of the '60s, and Kennedy had a tremendous effect, at least on myself. So this was something that I can honestly say that when I look back at my career and I talk to my friends, and most of the people that, like, I went to college with are very successful. A lot of them are extremely wealthy. But when we compare our careers, I think that -- and they generally agree -- the satisfaction that I have gotten in public service, I think, transcends any monetary value. And I wouldn't change it at all.

Mr. Lawrence: In your careers in government, what qualities have you observed as key characteristics of good leadership?

Mr. Colo: Well, I think that a strong work ethic is very important, especially in the jobs that we are in, because you really have to put in long hours.

Certainly you have to be a motivator of people. I think it was Harry Truman who said something to the effect that 'a good leader is a person who can persuade other people to do what they don't normally want to do and like it.' So I think that being able to motivate other people to move forward in the direction that the leadership feels is appropriate is very important. I also think that you have to be approachable, and I think you have to be a good teacher to bring other people along. I think that's very important.

Mr. Brown: I would say that being responsible, being reasonable, and being affable in many respects. By being responsible, I would say that the ability to act responsibly, but also to accept responsibility for your actions; in terms of being reasonable, to be fair and equitable across the board as much as you can; and the affability issue really is that you can do so in a manner that -- with an even temperament so that you can bring logic to bear, as opposed to some less exact science at how you arrive at a decision, particularly when issues are contentious.

Mr. Lawrence: Do you think these qualities are going to change for leaders in this century?

Mr. Colo: Well, being one that is involved in the technology field, I think that definitely knowledge and technology is going to be something that people of our generation might be able to get by right now, because truly there is a transitional phase. But I think that you will be -- I think leadership is leadership. But I think the ability to be able to grasp the vision of where technology takes you is very important for the leaders of the future.

Mr. Lawrence: It's time for a break. This is The Business of Government Hour. We'll rejoin our conversation in just a few minutes. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And our conversation today is with Dana Brown, assistant director of administration, and Stephen Colo, chief information officer of the U.S. Secret Service.

After the Columbine shooting, the Secret Service started the Safe Schools initiative to investigate school violence. What does this project involve?

Mr. Colo: Let me start out and tell you how it started. Actually, a couple of years ago, the Secret Service completed an operational study of the behavior and thinking of people who attacked or attempted to attack major national figures or celebrities. And this study was called the "Exceptional Case Study." And it redefined how the Secret Service handled their threat assessment and methodology.

We were very pleased with the results. And in fact, after -- I think it was 1998 through '99, when we saw some parallels in what was happening in our school systems, that we started to take that same analysis approach and look at attacks in schools. And we had been partnered with Department of Education to study that.

It's really interesting, because I believe it was -- we have looked at 37 different attacks, and there are some parallels. Three-quarters of these attacks were planned in advance. And they also, the students, communicated what was going to transpire, or gave good indication to other students. And if that is the case, if this isn't students that are snapping, and if they are communicating with others, then certainly it is our belief that we can prevent these type of attacks. So it is an ongoing study. But I think that it really has some very hopeful results in the end.

Mr. Lawrence: I have also learned that the Secret Service announced a partnership with the FBI and South Carolina law enforcement to operate the Computer Crime Center. How has technology changed the way the Secret Service investigates crime?

Mr. Colo: That's correct. We just recently announced a partnership with the FBI in South Carolina and what they call the -- I believe it is the State Law Enforcement Division, or SLED -- to put a center in South Carolina. It will be manned by the three different law enforcement entities. And they're going to put a -- I think it is about a $2-1/2 million forensic lab in South Carolina.

I think what this partnership does, especially for local police, it assists, because many local police departments don't get a lot of, maybe, intrusion cases, computer cases, and so they might not have the expertise. So this allows us to assist them and improve the training and the forensics that they do in these cases.

So we believe this is going to be very successful, and we have been doing similar types of partnerships throughout the United States, to really rave reviews.

Mr. Lawrence: And speaking of partnerships, the Secret Service partnered with other law enforcement agencies to solve some high-profile computer crimes this year. What is the Secret Service doing now to fight electronic crime?

Mr. Brown: Well, as you can imagine, electronic is an evolving crime. What we have in place, Electronic Crime Special Agent Program, it's well over 100 agents now that have been very well trained in computer forensics. They have the ability to access computers, identify information in the computers that could be used to identify the individuals who took part in the crime.

Also, we have gone into -- as Steve just mentioned a few minutes ago -- a task force approach in many areas. Our New York Crimes Electronic Task Force is one of the unique task forces in the country. It's a partnership among many law enforcement agencies, federal, local, and state, as well as the industry.

Also, we have now taken, as I said earlier, a global approach to this matter. And these issues having to do with computer crimes and electronic crimes is -- again, the individual that is accessing your computer could be anywhere in the world. So it has changed the whole perspective on how we do business, and the effort now is to attack the problem globally as opposed to parochially.

Mr. Colo: Yeah. I want to follow up on the New York Electronic Crime Task Force, because truly, this is probably one of the most unique partnerships in this country in law enforcement. It is approximately 45 law enforcement agencies, to include things like the Federal Trade Commission. It is not just what you would think of as law enforcement, you know, which would be the Secret Service and NYPD, the FBI. You have the FTC, Customs, and the Postal Inspectors. But more important is the business partners that we have, 75 different corporations, to include places like Intel, the Bank of New York, Lucent Technologies. It goes on and on. Fortune 500 companies.

And they have gotten together to really look at electronic crimes and assist in how we approach this, because the passing of information has been a big problem when it comes to electronic crimes, because a lot of companies don't feel comfortable passing that information to federal agencies, and even local agencies. This partnership really works both ways, and it has solved some tremendously important cases.

Mr. Lawrence: Relatedly, credit card theft and fraud have increased significantly in the past decade. What advice do you have for our listeners with credit cards?

Mr. Brown: Well, generally speaking, it is best to protect the information as best you can; also, to be careful with anything that would relate to your identification that might make it easy for people to take identification and create counterfeit credit cards or otherwise obtain information that might be used to generate a credit card in your name.

Also, we do work with the industry to a great extent to identify best practices and to make those public as best we can. We aggressively pursue all the cases that we can. And generally speaking, we just have promoted a public information program to make that known to the public in general, that there are issues that they need to be concerned about, all types of information, not just credit cards.

Mr. Colo: Yeah. I think that one of the big issues that we really want to emphasize is the issue of social engineering. I mean, there are a lot of really smart criminals out there that have really good technical expertise. But generally, especially when it comes to things like credit card fraud, they need to get some information from individuals. And oftentimes you may get a call from someone posing as a bank or a credit card company, and they say things like, 'we just send you out a credit card', or maybe 'something was stolen from the mail, and so we're just going to give you some information, and you need to just give us back, you know, to make sure that's true.' And they solicit PIN numbers from people. And all of a sudden, the person finds out that his bank account has a zero balance. So you have to be very, very skeptical about anyone asking you that type of information over the telephone.

Mr. Lawrence: And we also know that counterfeiting of our currency has risen in the last decade with the help of technology. How does the Secret Service help us recognize and protect us from that?

Mr. Colo: Well, I'll just add one thing before I turn it over to Dana. Actually, it has not risen. We have actually been very successful recent years. We had approximately $40 million passed last year. And in the government, you have a performance matrix that you must hopefully meet. And I believe that our -- what we had anticipated and we had successfully accomplished was a 12 percent reduction under what we had expected, so we are very pleased, especially in a campaign year, to see that type of reduction.

Mr. Brown: Probably the one thing that really has changed, though, is how counterfeit is produced. It is no longer the mainstream approach to what people might have some recollection of, whether it is a printing press involved. Much of it can be done now through computer generation or through photocopying processes.

And to work against those issues, we're working with the industry significantly to try to identify where they can be of assistance in helping us to modify the equipment or put into place practices and approaches and awareness that these computers and photocopiers can be used for legitimate purposes to produce counterfeit currency.

Mr. Lawrence: Okay. It's time for a break. We'll be back with more of The Business of Government Hour in just a few minutes. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers. And our conversation today is with Dana Brown, assistant director of administration, and Steve Colo, chief information officer of the U.S. Secret Service.

Well, Steve, you mentioned that this was one of your jobs earlier in terms of protecting the president or the presidential campaign. What are the logistics involved in such an enormous task?

Mr. Colo: The logistics are formidable. Think about a presidential campaign, where the polls really oftentimes dictate where a candidate will be going from day to day. And the Secret Service is mandated to get to that site ahead of time, doing site surveys and putting up an infrastructure so that these people can be relatively safe, and yet we can't be so intrusive. So there is a balancing act.

It is very difficult, to say the least. And in this campaign, for example, the difference between the amount of sites and stops that we had done in the year 2000, as opposed to 1999, was almost a 30 percent increase in activity. So you can imagine, when you have a fairly static pool of people, and you need to improve your travel by about 30 percent, it is not only a logistical nightmare, but you are talking about a budget nightmare. And I can turn it right over to Dana, and he can answer that issue.

Mr. Brown: Probably the most difficult thing for us is that we can't predict travel. So much of that is depending upon the individual protectees and what their responsibilities will be, or what their interests are, where they are going to travel and world events, and world events influence a lot of the travel.

So while we can take a look at past years and come up with estimates, what we can't do is project factually what is going to be the next year's cost. And as Steve pointed out, airfare, hotel costs, overtime, all those are issues that are paramount in dealing with the protective mission. And again, we have very little independent influence over that. We don't necessarily tell people where they can or can't go, when or when they can't go there.

The urgency of the travel, the short notice sometimes, also curtails our ability to have more influence over some of the issues we might otherwise be able to control in terms of cost.

Mr. Lawrence: But how do you manage the balance between perhaps a candidate's desire to be out amongst the people and a need to keep them away from certain groups of those people?

Mr. Colo: Well, it really depends on the situation. If an individual is going someplace in some spontaneous location where there is not a lot of warning ahead of time, we have a comfort factor that you wouldn't have if it is well-known and it's published in the newspapers. And that is the problem in the democracy that we live. We need to make that balance, because in our political systems, the politicians need to be among the people. And we have to sometime realize that we will not get our way all the time.

And it's a matter of doing threat assessment. Once again, it depends on the circumstances, obviously, the crowd. And, you know, we certainly do -- we inform these different people that we protect of the situations that we go in, and we work with them to make sure that they get the exposure, but they are protected also.

Mr. Lawrence: What's protective research?

Mr. Colo: Well, protective research is the division of the Secret Service that handles most of the scientific and technical support programs. It consists of our information and resource management division, which I have direct oversight, which is basically our information technology part of the Secret Service.

It has our intelligence division, which they handle all of the threats or potential threats against the president, the vice-president, and the various people that we protect. It has the technical security division, which really handles most of the fixed-site security for our protectees; whether they are temporary at a hotel, they set up really kind of the perimeter and countermeasures, whether they are chemical or biological countermeasures, make sure there is radiation countermeasures in effect. They have a lot of really interesting programs, a lot of them which were classified, especially around the White House. So they are responsible for the alarms at the White House, all the cameras. And then we also have what we call the National Threat Assessment Center, and that's the staff that handled what we talked about before, about the school initiative and the violence in schools and also the exceptional case study project. And finally, the last division under that is really our emergency preparedness office, which handles all of the contingency plans for the Secret Service.

Mr. Lawrence: Could you describe the career path available to agents and the type of training they get?

Mr. Brown: New agents come on board through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. That's their first introduction. It's a general criminal investigations background. They come up to the Riley Training Center, which is our facility at Beltsville, for their specific Secret Service training. Throughout that -- it is 16 to 18 weeks, I guess, now, it's quite a long time; it's very intensive. And we think it is probably some of the best training in the world, certainly specific to what we do as an organization.

From that, those agents are dispatched to various field offices throughout the country. Generally speaking, they can expect to spend three to five years in a field office before going to a second assignment. Generally speaking, that second assignment will be a protective assignment of some nature, either to one of the two large details or presidential/vice presidential detail or one of the support details for the former presidents. From there, they'll generally transition to a headquarters assignment somewhere in Washington, D.C., if they are in proximity, or back to the field.

We now have set into place a new career planning that has been developed over the last couple of years, and we are in the initial stages of implementing that now. And we feel, with the influx of new agents that we have had over the last several years, that our average agent in the field now probably has four to five years on the job.

The demographics have changed a lot over the recent past. We have hired more young people. We have lost some very senior people. So this will probably afford us the opportunity to provide these agents greater latitude than those of us that are more senior may have had in the past. And we think that there will be some kind of unique opportunities for those that want to remain in the area where they have started, provided it is probably an area that lends itself to it, principally an area with a larger field office. Perhaps they can do most, if not all, of their career in there. Of those that want to have a protective background and do that, they can do that as well.

Those that want to have an investigative career track, once you have done some protection, you can go back in the field and actually maintain a supervisory position back there.

Then you have the standard management track, where you would migrate through all the various aspects of the Secret Service, investigative, protective, as well as administrative, in the pursuit of reaching the higher levels in the Secret Service, going back once more to this well-rounded perspective, which we have somewhat prided ourselves on over the years.

Mr. Lawrence: Almost all agencies have developed strategic plans and performance assessments as part of GPRA implementation. How well is the Secret Service doing in meeting its performance goals?

Mr. Colo: Well, Dana and I are both very strong believers in strategic planning. And we really push this issue, because I think that's the cornerstone, which everything else falls under. Actually, after we completed the overall strategic plan for the Secret Service, I worked on and completed an information technology strategic plan and actually went back to all of the assistant directors and interviewed them to make sure that the business aligned with the technology. And we're very pleased on how that ended.

Now, as to the performance measurements, I talked about it a little bit before, about the counterfeit currency. And we're very pleased that we actually had a reduction of 12 percent in a very, very busy year. And although it is very difficult not to just show statistics, statistics, certainly, in the law enforcement community is very important, because you can gauge the amount of arrests from year to year. But also now, we are forced to look at really the quality of the arrests and the quality of the cases that we handle to say what impact they have on the overall population. So we really have changed the way that we use the statistics for performance measurements. And probably Dana can probably talk a little bit more about that.

Mr. Brown: All I would say is, we're trying to align the financial plan, I think, more with the performance measurements issues than perhaps we have in the past. We have set into place over the last year a number of mechanisms in the Secret Service that we think will provide us kind of a unique opportunity to develop more of a protocol for how we look at the strategic plan, performance measurements, and the financial plan by making the process much more inclusive, whereas in the past, the office of administration might have had pretty much independent responsibility for making some budget issues, whereas now we have included all the assistant directors' offices in making those decisions.

Mr. Lawrence: It's time for a break. We'll be right back with more of The Business Of Government Hour in just a few minutes. (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 Dana Brown, assistant director of administration, and Steve Colo, chief information officer of the U.S. Secret Service.

One of the toughest challenges facing many employers is recruiting and retaining new employees. Does Secret Service have this problem?

Mr. Colo: Well, I can talk about it, especially on the IT side, because that's a major issue that is not just unique to the Secret Service, but the government in general, because you are competing for very technical skills against a private sector that has the capability of paying more.

Although I can say that the government actually has done a pretty good job of improving the pay issues, there is now a lot of pilot programs out there, such as pay banding, where especially an IT professional, they can eliminate the static step increases. And it is actually pay for performance, where a person who really improves his skills can be paid more than maybe someone who would be normally at the same grade level.

The government is also more willing to give out retention bonuses. In fact, the Secret Service has done that on a number of occasions to keep those people that have the skills that we need when it appears that they are leaving or maybe actually have had job offers. And there are some other type of pilots that we have been using: Telecommunicating, flexi-work schedules. Right in our IT shop, I just started a pilot; I wanted to try some people who were going to work at home who probably -- especially with maybe programmers or people who do not have to be at the workplace can spend some time at home. And obviously, you're saving funds when it comes to, you know, travel costs and parking.

I also have someone at a GSA-sanctioned location, and I put another person at another Secret Service location, just to test these types of programs to see how they would work.

And also, even on the agent population, especially when it comes to technical skills, it is very competitive out there. We are, as you have heard, very interested in computer crimes, and to get those people coming out of college with those type of skills, the best thing I can say is, fortunately, we have a very unique mission, and that draws a lot of people. So we're fortunate.

Mr. Brown: I'll just say a couple of things. One is that we have been very sensitive over the last several years to the quality of life issues, work life issues, for our agent personnel. We recognize that they were working excessive numbers of overtime hours. With the cooperation of the Department of the Treasury, we have instituted a study called the "Workload Balancing Study," which has brought us the opportunity over the last couple of years to hire additional personnel to address that issue, to bring those hours of overtime down. Also, I don't want to neglect the fact that we have a uniform division of the Secret Service as well. And the contribution of the Secret Service is unique and exceptional. They also have some very serious quality of work life issues.

We just completed a study on January 19th, with the department, again, identifying their issues, one of which again was the number of hours worked, having to take -- the lack of days off, being forced overtime hours, things like that. So we're also looking to try to improve their stature by increasing their positions. And both of those really have an impact on recruiting and retention. It is very difficult to get people to come places where they are going to have work forever and very little opportunity to have a break, those type of things as well. But also, because of the first program, it is much more competitive than it used to be. Agents and officers now are probably less inclined to stay for the retirement purposes and benefits than they might have been in the past, because they are pretty much general, as opposed to unique to this particular agency.

So we're looking at those issues. Also, from support personnel in general, I think we're finding that we need to take a different approach to retaining and recruiting them than we have in the past, certainly in the technical field that Steve has mentioned, but also just generally. We're looking at different ways to try to make the Secret Service unique, make it a better place, and do that uniformly throughout the regions, uniform division officers and support staff as well.

Mr. Lawrence: What advice would you give to a young person interested in a career in the Secret Service?

Mr. Colo: Well, we do these type of speeches all the time, going to college campuses. And, you know, once again, fortunately, we have a really interesting mission and a very diverse career when you can move back and forth between protection and investigation. And I feel that the government certainly pays fairly well, and money isn't what it is cracked up to be. And I feel that, surprisingly, the people that we get in today are as qualified, if not much more qualified, than the people that came on the job with Dana and I. We were talking about -- we are probably lucky that we don't have to apply right now. We probably wouldn't make the job.

Mr. Lawrence: I was going to ask, what types of skills would you be looking for?

Mr. Brown: Pretty much, I think, as Steve has indicated. In some areas, certainly having some technical skills is an attribute. Since we do financial crimes, having some accounting or business background sometimes is an attribute. Having foreign language skills can be. We do have and have increased significantly the number of overseas positions that we now have. Generally speaking, though, I think just a well-balanced background, some previous job experience, not necessarily law enforcement experience, that might lend itself to success in the Secret Service in either its protective or investigative capabilities.

We are and have put a lot of emphasis, as I said earlier, on being well-rounded. And I think that that plus your willingness to work significant hours and be dedicated to the job is probably the single most important purpose.

Mr. Lawrence: One of the things I have heard in our conversation is the forming of partnerships by the Secret Service with other agencies of the government, perhaps, and even amongst colleagues. How do you partner so effectively, and what are the lessons learned?

Mr. Colo: Well, we're going to be forced throughout the government to partner more and more as time goes on. And I'll just once again use the area of information technology. You know, our mission is indeed unique. But our business process is not. What we do when it comes to financial management, when it comes to procurement, when it comes to the administrative process, is the same thing that other government agencies do. And in the past, we in government agencies have looked very myopically at what we do, and we have built these stovepipe systems. And to save money, we are going to now have to go and partner with other agencies and say, 'okay, we're not going to build this system, and you build this system. We're going to build one system, and it is going to be enterprise-wide. And in fact, you build the system, we'll fund the money to you, and we'll give the input as to how it best works.'

Partnerships are very important. We have some very good partnerships with ATF and throughout Treasury. And also, we are doing very limited partnerships, actually, internally. For example, Dana and I work very closely as the CIO and CFO. In fact, I'll let him talk a little bit about that.

Mr. Brown: Well, we did take a look at how we have done business in the past, and we looked to try to change that dramatically, particularly in terms of our financial management processes, from the particularly financial management perspective. In the past perhaps, financial management didn't have this kind of influence in being able to participate in the process they might otherwise have had. And we're trying to change this from being a bookkeeping situation to being more of a management consultant situation.

Steve and his colleagues had an excellent idea in setting up a council, a technology council to review what they wanted to do in terms of IT. When we reviewed it, we actually saw some opportunities for us in the financial management area to cooperate with them and change the tenor of the council to a technology and investment management council.

What we have done, then, is incorporated them into nearly all the assistant directors' offices into a cooperative effort to review everything that comes up of an IT and a non-IT nature, bringing them before the council. It gets considered. We have adopted a business case perspective for everything. We're looking to use the information technology and a portfolio system. We're looking at decision-making software.

We're trying to make what has been historically a very subjective process into a much more objective one. And I think that will benefit us all over time. The principal issue is to generate a methodology or a protocol that will be consistent over time, be defensible, so that when we bring forward initiatives to the department or to wherever, that we can defend them with some -- not only anecdotal information, which we're very good at, but also, now, some empirical data, which perhaps in the past we haven't been quite as capable in terms of producing.

So we're trying to do both. And working with Steve and his people has been outstanding.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, I'm afraid we're out of time. I want to thank you both for being with us. Thank you, Dana.

Mr. Brown: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.

Mr. Lawrence: Thanks, Steve.

Mr. Colo: Well, thank you, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Dana Brown, assistant director of administration, and Steve Colo, chief information officer of the U.S. Secret Service. To learn more about our programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness, visit us on the Web at

See you next week.

Stephen T. Colo interview
Stephen T. Colo

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