Definition

deputy CIO (deputy chief information officer)

Contributor(s): Mary K. Pratt

Deputy CIO is a role within some organizations that generally has responsibility for overseeing day-to-day IT operations. It is more commonly found in the public sector than in the private sector and most prevalent in government agencies. Deputy CIOs can be found in private sector organizations as well but usually only at large companies.

The role of the deputy CIO, regardless of whether it's in a public agency or a private business, tends to be much more tactical than the both the CIO position or the CTO job. Where the CIO and CTO focus on an organization's technology strategy and how technology can enable organizational objectives, a deputy CIO typically ensures that all the IT operations run smoothly.

As such, deputy CIOs generally take over high-level management of the CIO's strategic initiatives once those initiatives have moved from the drawing board and into production. That is why some deputy CIOs also oversee all the project management functions within the IT department as well. Deputy CIOs often have responsibility for managing service provider relationships, too, and many have talent management responsibilities as well.

In short, the deputy CIO is a chief of staff for an organization's top IT leader.

Some organizations also use the deputy CIO position as part of their succession plans, filling the role with IT professionals who are potential candidates for stepping into the CIO job when the CIO is temporarily or unexpectedly unavailable or when the CIO permanently steps down. However, the deputy CIO position tends to lead directly to an organization's CIO post more often in government settings than in the private sector; it can lead to a CIO position in the private sector as well, but it's not a guaranteed stepping stone within the deputy CIO's own organization.

Additionally, while the deputy CIO is indeed a recognized and established position in many organizations, the role and its key responsibilities often mirror other well-known IT department positions, such as IT chief operating officer, vice president of IT operations and even CTO.

Given its position within an organization's hierarchy and its role within the IT department, deputy CIOs need to have experience that's similar to that of CIOs -- that is, both technical experience as well as management and business acumen. They tend to come from other top positions within the IT organization; some also have worked as CIOs for smaller organizations or as CIOs for business lines within large corporations.

Salary for the position ranges, just as it does for the CIO job and other high-level jobs within an organization. Salary depends on the size of the organization, actual responsibilities and a candidate's experience and skills. Pay ranges from $100,000-plus to more than $200,000.

This was last updated in July 2015

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