What is an OCIO?

OCIO stands for Outsourced Chief Investment Officer or can be broadly identified as outsourced investment management. The term OCIO, in general, refers to the partial or complete outsourcing of a business’s functions to a third party. 

OCIO services are predominantly provided by banks, brokerages, asset management companies, and pension actuaries. The OCIO market saw a 10.7% growth in 2020 alone and is projected to grow by a further 72.2% over the next five years. 

What is an OCIO’s Role?

An OCIO role is an executive position that has been outsourced to third-party suppliers or specialists. It sometimes makes more financial sense to outsource such roles to consultants and experts who govern and deliver management, implementation, and usability of information and computer technologies. 

Businesses hire OCIOs to help them reshape technology integration and usability. External parties offer a wealth of experience and knowledge that is difficult to find elsewhere. By hiring an OCIO, businesses can reduce costs, customize financial solutions, streamline decision-making and develop long-term, trustworthy relationships. 

Outsourced Chief Investment Officer vs. Outsourced Chief Information Officer

An outsourced chief investment officer enables businesses to delegate and manage the day-to-day responsibilities of an investment program. They help organizations to shift discretionary and elective investment responsibility from the asset owner to an asset advisor. 

An outsourced chief information officer, on the other hand, provides CIO services at a fixed monthly rate. This enables businesses to offset the high costs associated with salaried employees and focus on reducing downtime and driving productivity.

OCIO vs Consultants

The central difference between consultants and OCIOs is discretion and constraints. In a conducting model, the clients and investors possess and maintain discretion on both strategy and implementation.  

An OCIO model has full access and control over implementation with the option to share discretion over strategy and policy. 

OCIO vs IT Transformation Lead

Leading OCIOs invest in technology solutions that meet ever-increasing client demands in highly competitive markets. OCIOs are turning toward technology-driven solutions that offer market differentiation, reduce operational costs, and optimize business processes.

OCIOs work together with IT transformation leads who disrupt business models and implement new ways of working. 

Implementing technology solutions to support OCIO business offers the following benefits: 

  • Stronger monitoring capabilities which enable maximum transparency 
  • An easily accessible overview of change management 
  • Better performance analysis 
  • Instant insight into real-time risk management 
  • Improved investment in the onboarding process 
  • Timely responses to client requests 

OCIO in Government Departments

OCIOs are used across multiple government departments all over the world to facilitate and implement effective change. For example, the Department of the Interior in the United States employs the use of an OCIO to oversee the bureau’s information management and technology services. 

In order to successfully serve the multiple missions established by the department, the OCIO implements and applies modern IT tools, approaches, products, and systems to completely overhaul the way business is operated both internally and externally.

A government office with which you may be more familiar that has also utilized an OCIO in the past is the USDA.

What Does the USDA Office Do?

The USDA office provides leadership and policies on agriculture, food, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and other related issues based on the public interest. The USDA is made up of 29 offices and agencies that have a combined workforce of over 100,000 employees nationwide. 

The core values described in the USDA’s strategic framework provide their workforce with direction and goals which are used to measure progress and help guide decisions about programs, budgets, and public services.

To lead their information strategies, Gary Washington was selected as the USDA OCIO in September of 2017. He is the former CIO of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and has also served as CIO and Director of the Information Technology Division for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Since joining the USDA in 2017, Gary Washington became a full-time CIO and has led an effort to completely overhaul and modernize the USDA’s technology capabilities. He implemented new frameworks that increased the efficiency, productivity, and integrity of the department programs and services. 

OCIO DOL (Department of Labor)

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) provides vital infrastructure and support that allows the US Department of Labor to perform its missions and achieve its goals.

OASAM drives leadership through the use and implementation of the following:

  • Technology
  • Human resources
  • Procurement
  • Business operations
  • Safety
  • Health
  • Space management
  • Civil rights
  • Security
  • Budget
  • Performance


Is CIO Higher Than CTO?

In the vast majority of cases, it’s the CIOs job to oversee internal IT and its strategic value to business operations and functionality. CTOs instead concentrate on emerging technologies and work across departments to create and implement policies and procedures that leverage and incorporate the use of technology to improve the products and services delivered to customers. 

In some cases, the CIO acts as the CTO, with some businesses choosing to split the IT management roles between the person who oversees the supply chain and the person who manages demand. This enables the CTO to deliver technology while the CIO applies it concurrently to business processes.


The need for effective OCIOs has never been greater. The ever-changing nature of technology means that businesses need to be even more reflexive and responsive to change.

Outsourcing CIO capabilities and roles enable businesses to attract expert third-party knowledge whilst preserving their budgets. 

The shift to hiring OCIOs provides businesses with a host of benefits including improved performance, streamlined governance, expansion of resources, and the achievement of broader strategic goals through technology.

Updated: April 05, 2022

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