Circuit

Blog archive

The yes man

How do you say no to the president when he’s asking you to do another four years of public service, just when you’re about to retire? You simply don’t.

That suggestion came from Earl Devaney, retired chairman of the Recovery and Accountability Board, who spoke April 16 at the Federal Senior management Conference in Cambridge, Md.

Devaney spent 41 years in government, investigating white-collar crime and government waste, fraud and abuse as a Secret Service agent and as inspector general of the Interior Department. He joined the RATB when it launched in 2009.

Devaney described the day in 2009 when Vice President Joe Biden called and asked him to chair the new board. It was a proposal Devaney pondered over the weekend, but decided to turn down because he had promised his wife he would retire.

He practiced in front of the mirror all weekend the art of saying no: “Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. It’s a terrific honor, [but] let me give you some names of folks I really think would do a good job for you.”

When Monday came around, Devaney showed up at the appointed time at the White House to see the vice president.

“At some point, I think [Biden] sensed I was sort of moonwalking a little bit; he just watched and said, ‘Let’s go see the president,'” Devaney told the audience.

"So the president says, ‘So are you gonna to take the job?’ Despite his careful practice, Devaney answered the president immediately with a  "yes, sir.”

As for the retirement promise Devaney made to his wife? “Needless to say, Mother’s Day, birthdays and Christmas were very expensive,” he deadpanned.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Apr 17, 2012 at 12:11 PM


The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above