The Circuit


Making an entrance

If you’re late for a big event, you probably want to make your entrance as discreetly as possible. The likelihood of that actually happening when you’re a former federal chief technology officer, however, is low. 

The June 11 U.S.-India Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation was nearing its end when a familiar figure emerged through the doors, trying to sneak his way to the front row without drawing attention to himself. But no such luck.

“We just had one late addition; nice to see nothing changes! Aneesh Chopra, the former chief technology officer, just joined us,” Chris Vein, White House deputy chief technology officer, announced in jest as the latecomer flashed a sheepish smile and took his seat.

Chopra was appointed as the first federal CTO in 2009 and stayed for more than two years. The White House broke the news of his resignation in late January 2012, and a few weeks later came the announcement that he had joined the Advisory Board Co., a consulting firm focused on health care research.

During his White House tenure, Chopra led open government efforts and was involved with the creation of the Open Government Platform, which was unveiled at the June 11 event. The open source, so-called Data.gov-in-a-box, initiative strives to increase transparency and accountability, as well as provide citizens with one portal to government information.

Rumors have swirled that Chopra soon intends to announce a run for Virginia lieutenant governor, with one source saying that announcement will come after July 15.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jun 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM0 comments


Top VA official recognized for excellence in leadership

The Veterans Affairs Department’s most senior technologist has received top honors for his leadership in information resources management.

Roger Baker, VA CIO, received the award June 12 at the AFFIRM Leadership Awards Luncheon at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. He received the Executive Leadership in Information Resources Management – Civilian award. 

Under his direction, VA has been setting an example of how agencies can update and modernize their network infrastructure, with Baker spearheading efforts in cloud adoption and IT systems consolidation, his nomination said.

In accepting his award, Baker offered a few words on what leadership means and highlighted the focus on outcomes.

“I think a leader has to be the rock that results are built on in an organization, and really has to be focused on delivering those results,” he said. “In the end, results are all that matter. We spend a lot of time on process in the government [but] process doesn’t serve veterans. Process doesn’t serve the taxpayers. Process doesn’t serve all of our other mission focuses.”

Baker, who also is assistant secretary for information and technology, has served as VA’s CIO since May 2009. His previous role to that appointment was as president and CEO of Dataline LLC, an IT services and integration company.

Other 2012 AFFIRM Leadership Awards winners include:

Executive Leadership in Information Resources Management – Defense
Maj. Gen. Earl Matthews, director of cyberspace operations, Office of Information Dominance and CIO, Air Force

Executive Leadership in Information Resources Management – Intelligence
Al Tarasiuk, intelligence community CIO, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Executive Leadership Award for Industry
Todd Ramsey, general manager, U.S. federal, IBM

Leadership Award in Acquisition and Procurement
Oliver Voss, manager, headquarters procurement division, Environmental Protection Agency

Leadership Award for Service to the Citizen
Prudence Goforth, web communications and new media division director, Health and Human Services Department

Leadership Award for Service to the Country
Robert Tosatto, captain, U.S. public health service director, Division of Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General

Leadership Award for Innovative Applications
Sara Schroerlucke, director, Northern Border Division, Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, Homeland Security Department

Leadership in Service to the Government IT Community
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), House of Representatives

Leadership in Service Excellence
Carpool App Team, Transportation Department

Leadership in Technology Innovation
GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool Team, Office of Governmentwide Policy, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, General Services Administration

Leadership in Health Information Technology
Make the Connection Team led by Sonja Batten, deputy chief consultant for specialty mental health, VA

Leadership in Cybersecurity
Heidi Avery, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security, National Security Staff

Leadership in Human Capital
Barbara Whitelaw, chief of staff, Office of the CIO, DHS

Special Recognition Award
Tim Schmidt, deputy CIO, Transportation Department

Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 13, 2012 at 12:11 PM0 comments


How to read minds

Post-GSA's spending scandal, the last thing one would expect is a mind reader as entertainment at an event attended by feds. But that’s exactly what happened at the Management of Change conference June 5 when Robert Priest, a self-proclaimed mind reader and former Army PSYOPS trained practitioner, gave a presentation on how to hack a mind.

“I don’t do anything with the spirits or the occult, I’m not the son of a gypsy witch and I haven’t been struck by lightning,” Priest told the audience as ways of introducing himself.

Using his background in psychology and something called “mind scripting,” Priest put on a show that rivaled any other illusionist’s. But the secret to his seeming clairvoyance was a background in neurolinguistic programming and use of psychological principles. Priest made no secret about that his craft was something everyone could learn if they invested the time, adding jokingly it took him 20 years in the Army to develop his skills.

But for those uninitiated, it seemed almost like magic.

To kick off his show, Priest used Zener cards, the well-known psychic test developed in the 1930s. Each of those cards display different sign: a circle, a plus sign, a square and a star. He asked the audience members to think about one of those signs, “whatever you feel drawn to,” he said. (Yours truly chose the star.)

When he asked how many picked the square, only a few of the audience members raised their hands. “Maybe 2 percent,” Priest estimated.

“I find that those who pick the square are intelligent and decisive,” he said, flipping over the card with the square to show that the back of it said “intelligent and decisive” in capital letters.

Next, he asked how many picked the plus sign and only a few audience members indicated they had done so. “About 6 percent,” Priest said.

“The plus-sign people tend to be creative and ambitious,” he said, showing that the back of the card stated the two adjectives.

As he moved onto the next sign, an equally small percentage of audience members revealed they had picked the circle. People who choose that sign tend to be flexible, Priest said.

With the last card in hand, it became obvious that most audience members had picked the star. And it also became obvious that Priest had known they would. Printed on the back of the card, the purported personality traits of people who gravitate toward the star, was: “Drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll!”

 

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jun 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM0 comments