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White House CIO's first 40 days included 'worst day' ever

Patrick Thibodeau | March 14, 2012
Upon assuming his role as White House CIO, Brook Colangelo and his staff put in 80 hour weeks, "if not more.And in his first 40 days on the job, the White House email system was down 23% of the time.

This led to new initiative. There wasn't money in the IT budget to hire professional software engineers. Instead, they created a program to hire computer science savvy interns to work on the project.

The interns met with the business customers, and it led to new approaches "for small and really painful problems for customers," said Colangelo.

In eight weeks, 40 applications were built, including a parking application that had previously been done in Excel, and a printer dashboard to tell them when a printer was running out of toner. The program also led to the development of survey tools, memo generators, and an online tool that replaced paper-based goods and services processing.

"I'm proud of what we've done here," said Colangelo. Among the things he believed helped him to make progress was to "never let a bad day go to waste."

"Every time we had a bad day, we were able to articulate our vision for the IT systems," said Colangelo, and to show leadership why they really wanted certain things, such as a disaster recovery center to prevent email outages.


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