Giddy about Governance at the U.S. Treasury Department


It’s rare to hear organizations talk positively about shared services and governance models, but tuning into a recent episode of Federal News Radio, U.S. Treasury Department Chief Information Officer Robyn East speaks to the significant progress the department has made around enterprise content management specifically.

Fierce Content Management also picked up the discussion, in which East says the notion of Enterprise Content Management used to be a real struggle inside the Treasury Department.

The interview is full of painful bureaucratic and IT buzz words, but speaks to the complexity of a $13+ billion government agency tackling enterprise IT initiatives. It’s Federal News Radio after all, what did you expect, Beyoncé?

“This is a very exciting story,” she said (starting at 10:20 in the interview). “[Enterprise Content Management] was a dirty word. Nobody wanted it. Nobody wanted to pay for it. Everyone thought it would fail.”

This is often a familiar tale inside large-scale content projects with organizations that have been burned with enterprise projects that have tilted toward technology over strategy, people and user experience.

The Treasury department appears to have turned that corner.

“We’ve turned ECM into an enterprise service that has grown 300% and built a number of applications that are being adopted across the Treasury.” said East.

Not afraid to ask the tough follow-up questions, the interviewer pressed for details on why the situation was so grim.

“Fear of failure and fear of loss of control,” East said of the environment at the Treasury before the centralized initiative. “People had to look at decommissioning their own separate CMS environments”

East also points out many inside the Treasury simply didn’t have an easy-to-use environment and the idea of a shared services become attractive as an alternative to the status quo. We’ve certainly seen the same inside large, decentralized environments where the carrot is far more effective than the stick in incentivizing behavior.

The interview is light on specifics on how the Treasury actually got to to this promised land, and very well may be one CIO’s effort to spin a success story out of past struggles. But it’s not often once hears such enthusiastic words when governance, enterprise content management, shared services and (gasp!) SharePoint are mentioned in the same sentence.

Maybe it’s time to switch the dial over to Federal News Radio to pick up future nuggets of CMS Wisdom.

About the Author
Jeff Cram

Jeff Cram is Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design), a digital agency based in Portland, OR and Boston, MA. As the Managing Editor of the CMS Myth, Jeff is passionate about all topics related to content management, digital strategy and experience design.

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