Federal CIO Tony Scott has big plans for the federal IT ecosystem, some of which he's gotten off the ground in recent months. Others, like the $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund — if approved in the fiscal 2017 appropriations — will just be getting started as President Barack Obama leaves office, assuming Congress passes a budget before then.
In an effort to ensure Scott's plans to improve and secure federal networks don't fall by the wayside, MeriTalk — a self-described public-private partnership advocating for "improving the outcomes of government IT" — is circulating an online petition encouraging the next president to keep Scott in place.
Online Petition: Extend Federal CIO Tony Scott's Term
The petition reads:
Since taking office as the third Chief Information Officer of the United States in February 2015, Tony Scott has made countless contributions to government IT through his strong leadership, continued efforts to improve existing initiatives and initiate new ones, as well as his fearless pursuit of federal excellence. When the current administration ends early next year, we don't want to see this effective leader leave his post.
Let's work together to keep Tony Scott in office for the next presidential term. Sign our petition today to keep the Great Scott working toward a better future for government IT.
It's not clear if Scott is interested in staying on through to another administration or whether the ultimate winner of this year's election will affect that decision. Scott did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.
There is some precedent for political appointees staying on through administration changes, even when the party changes, but not much.
Norman Mineta made the transition from President Bill Clinton to the second Bush White House, though he shifted from Secretary of Commerce to Secretary of Transportation. While Mineta shifted positions in the cabinet, he remained a registered Democrat during his time with the Bush administration.
When President Obama took over from President George W. Bush, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stayed on until 2011 to help manage the wind down of combat operations in the Iraq War.
Maintaining continuity in how the government buys and operates IT might not seem as important to national security as defense policy, though top security officials have argued just the opposite.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made a point of stressing that cybersecurity is a top priority for DHS, right alongside counterterrorism. Director of National Security James Clapper — who served as undersecretary of defense for intelligence under Bush and Obama — said the same, calling the threat of cyberattacks the nation's biggest vulnerability.
Two days after posting the petition online, approximately 100 people have signed on in support of keeping Scott through to the next administration, according to a MeriTalk spokesperson.
"Tony Scott has proven himself to be an effective leader who has the vision and know-how to improve the future of government IT," said MeriTalk founder Steve O'Keeffe. "Vote online and tell us why we need the Great Scott to keep Federal IT on track."