Rescue hero: Eric Brusoe

Related Links

Rescue heroes

In less than a year, Eric Brusoe turned around a governmentwide Defense Department program that was stalled and in danger of being canceled.

The Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System-Industrial Hygiene collects and analyzes air, water and soil samples that can indicate environmental hazards to which warfighters have been exposed. Using a Web-based interface, doctors and nurses can get information about the impact of various exposures and appropriate medical treatments.

Originally scheduled to launch in June 2003, the $6 million system was delayed because no one could agree on minimum system requirements. Brusoe said diverse groups of medical professionals -- for example, on Navy ships and at Army depots -- would use the system. "Getting them all on the same sheet of music" was not easy, he added. Without that consensus, the system was going nowhere.

In November 2004, DOD transferred oversight of the system to the Resources Information Technology Program Office (RITPO). Brusoe was tapped to manage the program, and he quickly formed a working group to gain consensus on the system's core capability.

The team completed a document detailing baseline requirements and received funding approval, then DOD awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to develop the system. By holding frequent meetings with government and company officials and tightly monitoring critical tasks, Brusoe kept the project on schedule.

Anyone who wanted to propose additional system requirements had to submit their requests for placement on a list of features and functions that would be considered after the initial project was completed.

Brusoe said team members' project management skills helped keep activities on track. Most of the program office's employees have Project Management Professional certification. Administrated by the Project Management Institute, such certification demonstrates a level of knowledge about how projects should be run, he said.

"We use [certification] as a cornerstone of everything we do in RITPO," Brusoe said. "Our bosses insist on it."

Brusoe's story has a happy ending. In August, he received authority to launch the health readiness system.

O'Hara is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

Advice from the pros

Name: Eric Brusoe.

Title: Principal deputy program manager for system acquisition, development and deployment.

Organization: The Defense Department's Resources Information Technology Program Office.

Project: Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System-Industrial Hygiene.

On managing people: "If you don't manage communications, you'll never succeed," Brusoe said. Everyone involved in his program, including those who will use the system and the developers who are creating it, must have a clear idea of what the program is all about, he said.

On managing processes: "Don't try to develop the project in one fell swoop," Brusoe said. That's a big temptation for novice program managers. Instead, focus on incremental builds, he said, and manage doable tasks.

On managing technology: "Don't look too far into the future," Brusoe said. "See what's available in the marketplace now and what is suitable." Invest in stable technology with a good security foundation, he added.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group