The Circuit

Callahan Bows Out of AFFIRM

Laura Callahan, deputy chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, has withdrawn her name from consideration to be next year's president of the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) following questions about her academic credentials.

Callahan's current term as AFFIRM's president ended at the association's annual awards luncheon June 13. In accordance with AFFIRM bylaws, the incoming vice president will serve as president until the next annual meeting in June 2004.

Callahan was put on paid leave from DHS June 5 after lawmakers questioned whether she had received her academic degrees from a so-called diploma mill. She was deputy CIO at the Labor Department until DHS CIO Steve Cooper tapped her to be his deputy last month.

Meanwhile, it appears that Callahan had a secret clearance when she went to work at DHS. Cooper said she brought it with her from Labor and also said there were no plans to replace her until the inquiry into her credentials is completed.

Project Managers Defined

The results of a CIO Council survey sent to agencies in April produced some promising results, according to Ira Hobbs, deputy CIO at the Agriculture Department. The Information Technology Project Management Skills Gap Survey was designed to get a better handle on the government's "inventory and need for qualified IT project managers," the survey said.

The results, Hobbs said, showed that 60 percent to 70 percent of federal government project managers meet the qualifications the survey outlined: They are full-time and are certified or have the necessary equivalent experience.

The Office of Personnel Management is expected to release project manager guidance this month.

Lighten Up, Ridge

DHS Secretary Tom Ridge has to be prepared for anything, including some interesting questions from citizens. Ridge took his turn answering e-mailed questions earlier this month on the White House Web site. Some had nothing to do with homeland security.

For example, Mike from Washington, D.C., told Ridge that "oftentimes you look very stern in your pictures. Your job is very serious, but maybe you should open your next briefing with a joke or something."

In response, Ridge said that he is "surrounded by enormously talented people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, and that there is enormous pleasure, occasional laughter and a lot of hard work that fills every day. My family still loves me, my three Labrador retrievers always seem to be happy to see me regardless of what anybody says about my picture, and life is good."

The dogs could not be reached for comment.

Newt: Reliving History

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has no plans to buy Hillary Clinton's new book, "Living History." Gingrich, who spoke June 11 at the E-Gov conference, sponsored by FCW Media Group, just shook his head when asked if he intended to join the pack of readers now devouring the instant best seller.

"No, I lived it," replied Gingrich, who was in office during President Bill Clinton's second term and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

However, Gingrich said he might just send Sen. Clinton his newest book — "Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War," a work of fiction about what would have happened if Gen. Robert E. Lee had won the famous Civil War battle.

Lessons learned: Smart contracting

The Defense Department could save millions, if not billions, of dollars if it did a better job of tracking services contracts, according to the General Accounting Office.

GAO officials point to the success of several large commercial firms that have reduced service costs by analyzing procurement data across different divisions and finding places where they can capitalize on their buying power. It's a concept now known as "spend analysis."

Here are cases GAO cited in a report released last week:

* Bausch & Lomb: 2001 procurement spending: $900 million. Savings: A reported $20 million a year from 1998 to 2001; reduced suppliers from 20,000 to 13,500.

* ChevronTexaco Corp.: 2001 procurement spending: $16 billion to $18 billion. Savings: Targeted savings of $300 million a year between now and 2005, and $1.3 billion a year thereafter.

* Delta Air Lines: 2001 procurement spending: Approximately $7 billion. Savings: More than $200 million since 2000.

* IBM Corp.: 2001 procurement spending: $42.4 billion. Savings: Hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

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