Five Questions for US DOT GIO Steve Lewis
Adena Schutzberg interviewed Steve Lewis, who was
appointed to the position of U.S. Department of Transportation
Geographic Information Officer on July 1. In addition to the GIO job,
Lewis still holds his previous job as manager of the Geospatial
Information Program at the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Adena Schutzberg (AS): The announcement of your appointment states
that you "will work with the DOT CIO, OA CIOs, and other DOT
stakeholders to promote the effective, secure use of innovative
geospatial technologies within DOT, maximize operational efficiencies,
and prevent duplication of geospatial activities." How do you plan to
do that? Who do you consider your stakeholders? Are they all within
DOT, or are some outside of DOT? Perhaps DHS? Commerce?
Steve Lewis (SL): The first step in this process is to develop a
Geospatial Community of Interest within DOT. Although there have been
other attempts to unite the geospatial community here, they were all
based on first addressing Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
and/or OMB requirements. There were no attempts to create a true sense
of community, where the members can learn from each other and leverage
the work that is being done across all of the DOT Operating
Administrations. The community will, of course, address FGDC and OMB
requirements, but it will also focus heavily on sharing experiences and
working together. To aid in this, I plan to develop an internal
geospatial wiki for our community to use. We will also make use of
other Web tools, such as Microsoft Sharepoint, to facilitate sharing of
information across the community.
Since my initial focus as Geographic Information Officer is the
internal DOT geospatial community, they will be my initial
stakeholders. The focus will expand to include stakeholders from
throughout the public and private sectors.
AS: Which skill set do you think is more valuable in a GIO,
technical skills or management/team building/people skills? Why?
SL: I believe that you need a good mix of skills. At this level,
the management/team building/people skills are critical, but I think
that a solid technical base is also needed. The technical base assures
that you can relate and communicate with all of your stakeholders.
AS: Is this office - or are you as the office-holder - likely to be
impacted by the upcoming change in administration in January 2009?
SL: The change in administration should not affect the momentum we
are creating. The GIO position here at DOT is a permanent one.
Geospatial information will remain an important enabler of the DOT
mission. Under the current administration, I have tremendous support
from the CIO, Dan Mintz. I believe that if I can show progress in
uniting the geospatial community at DOT, the administration that
follows will also be supportive.
AS: Does DOT currently have processes in place to monitor DOT
geospatial technology use, in particular to confirm it's secure,
efficient and non-redundant? Or will some of these need to be built
SL: A lot of these will have to be built from scratch. DOT does
have effective information security processes. However, without a true
geospatial community, the geospatial programs within the DOT have
operated independently. Unfortunately, that led to redundancy and
duplication of effort. I look forward to working with the geospatial
community here to remedy that.
AS: Once progress has been made at DOT, do you see potential for the
GIO role to grow to include interacting with other GIOs within the
federal government? No doubt there are some similar challenges to be
SL: Definitely. Not only will I work with and learn from the other
federal GIOs, but I will also interact with state level GIOs through
the National States Geographic Information Council. I also intend to
reach out to geospatial professionals at the state DOT level through
the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Published Thursday, September 25th, 2008