July 17, 2014

Lessons from Lamborghini

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Diaz photo

There are few honors that can compare to serving President Obama under Secretary Donovan. Certainly marrying my beautiful wife tops my list and having three dear children with her make the grade. Serving in the Marine Corps and the Army were fulfilling, and serving the good people of Illinois as CIO and CISO provided great privileges. Yet, being tapped for the role of CIO at HUD is the greatest privilege of my career.

Being a part of this historic administration and unique time in our great country would be enough, but it is not the full story. Knowing and working with the dedicated and passionate folks at HUD makes this not a job, but a mission, a calling, a meaningful purpose. Daily, new meetings, new encounters, new conversations reveal a group of people who have filled their lives with helping others achieve the American dream – having a place to call home.

Each day – multiple times – opportunities present themselves for me to remind my staff of our mission – to help our citizens find a home, to end homelessness, to keep the dream alive. We simply happen to do so by enabling the technology that supports the program offices and the field staff working with HUD clients. IT is a critical, pervasive, and essential component to fulfilling HUD’s charge. As good stewards, the office of the CIO must continuously find ways to do IT better, faster, cheaper.

Recently, a story on Lamborghini described an auto-maker in financial trouble. But then, the story said, Lamborghini was never really an auto-maker, they are a dream-maker – filling their clients with passion and romance. Lamborghini was recently purchased by Volkswagen and has since enjoyed a return to solvency – the Germans manage the books, the systems, and the finance while the Italians sell the passion, the romance, the dream.

HUD is similar in that we also are in the dream-making business, but we are struggling to keep our systems and technology honed to facilitate the dream. We have a staff of dedicated and passionate dream makers that struggle daily to have the right information to make the best decisions. They have pulled together a collection of old and new systems and work tirelessly to make them work – yet many challenges remain.

The office of the CIO is defining a strategy to bring IT solvency to HUD. The core components of this strategy include a state-of-the-art application portfolio, enhanced enterprise data management, increased staff mobility with remote decision making capabilities, technology enabled regional and field offices, and a well-trained customer focused workforce.

This strategy will leverage much of the work already completed by the team and will focus on ensuring HUD has the flexibility and control to better manage our mission. This is an exciting time to be at HUD and a great distinction to be a part of such a wonderful group of individuals – to be on a terrific team. So I am looking forward to working with everyone to make this dream come true.

Rafael Diaz is HUD’s Chief Information Officer.

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