Circuit

Tough nut to crack

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, a tech-savvy guy with a lot of friends in state governments, discovered how hard it is to drum up state and local business in the information technology arena.

Engler spent nearly 18 months at high-tech integrator EDS trying to grow the company's state and local business, but he was never able to bring in any work. Last week, he decided to trade it all in for a better job as president of the National Association of Manufacturers, the largest trade group in the United States. The position comes with a hefty pay raise — reportedly about $1 million a year in a job where people rarely say, "No, thanks."

DHS keeps D.C. address

Employees at the Homeland Security Department, who are scattered far and wide in buildings throughout Washington, D.C., should be happy to know that their jobs are safe. The House passed a bill last week to keep the headquarters in Washington, D.C., to avoid significant damage to the city's economy.

Although DHS has the authority to transfer its 180,000 workers anywhere in the country where they are needed most, the headquarters will stay in Washington, where about 2,000 employees are assigned.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sponsored the measure, said, "It was unthinkable that such an important Cabinet department would be located outside the city."

Hastings on the hustings

As president of the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM), Scott Hastings was supposed to be at the final luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel last week to present leadership awards to a host of private- and public- sector officials for their work in IT.

As the chief information officer for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, Hastings had to be on call as Congress considered whether to block the $10 billion contract because it was awarded to a company with an offshore parent.

Hastings never made it to the lunch, but we're not surprised. It's tough to be in two places at once even if you are like Superman. And when duty calls, it calls loudly.

Resume expansion

Zoe Strickland, the U.S. Postal Service's chief privacy officer, is more than the average privacy officer. Her staff of 11 also is in charge of handling Freedom of Information Act requests. Oh, and recently, her office took on records management as another duty.

Strickland's not complaining. In fact, she said she enjoys working with IT staff members. "They're very keen to have a better records policy," she said. "They don't like to hear from 20 different business managers, saying, 'I want my data for 18 months,' or 'I want mine for two and a half years.' There's got to be a better way to manage those things."

Smart access

Officials in Virginia Beach, Va., the largest city in the state, have been working intently since Sept. 11, 2001, to provide smart card access security to every government building in the city. The real challenge, as always, has been to get the number of systems down to one, said David Sullivan, the city's CIO.

At this point, officials have merged all but two systems. But they are building a new convention center, and the architect wants to put in an independent access card system.

AFFIRMing awards

Dan Matthews, the Transportation Department's CIO, won the top award at AFFIRM's annual leadership awards ceremony June 15.

AFFIRM officials praised Matthews' leadership in governmentwide information resources management. He told attendees that "it takes leadership to turn mud and straw into bricks."

"IT will not happen without you," he said. The federal workforce is responsible for extending government technology to people nationwide, he said, adding that "countless lives have been saved by computer technology."

He pointed to the Forest Service's use of technology to fight fires and talked about the Department of Health and Human Services' use of technology to research cures for cancer, AIDS and diabetes. With the help of computers, he said, Fannie Mae has made it possible for 70 percent of Americans to own homes. And electronic food stamps have eased the stigma for low-income Americans when they buy groceries.

  • Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.): Outstanding legislative leadership award for further government IT management.
  • Ira Kirsch, president of Unisys Corp.'s U.S. Federal Government Group: Executive leadership award for industry.
  • Mark Krzysko, deputy director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy: Leadership award for acquisition and procurement.
  • Kim Nelson, the Environmental Protection Agency's CIO: Leadership award for service to the citizen.
  • Mark Everson, the Internal Revenue Service's commissioner: Leadership award for e-government.
  • Mary Mitchell, the General Services Administration's deputy associate administrator for electronic government and technology: Leadership award for service in the government IT community.
  • Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Department secretary: Leadership award for service to the country.
  • The Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry team: Leadership award for innovative applications.
  • Greg Hanson, the Senate's assistant sergeant at arms and CIO: Leadership award for service excellence and management.

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