Rescue hero: Michael Snyder

Michael Snyder faced a problem in May 2003 that he was sure he knew how to solve. The Defense Department's Manage the Business program, which received $22 million annually, was in trouble. It was created to optimize medical care and environmental safety for more than 9 million warfighters worldwide. But the program was exceeding costs, operating behind schedule and performing significantly below its requirements.

"It's a problem you come across often in [information technology] project management," Snyder said. When a program lacks proper management controls and standard processes are not in place, an activity that should take six months to complete can take a year, he said. "Costs might double or triple if you don't apply" proper program management controls, he added.

So Snyder rolled up his sleeves. He set up standard processes for the program, empowered managers and improved communications among them. "We use standardized processes for contracting, for finance, for project control that every manager follows, so we don't have everyone re-creating the wheel," he said.

By January 2004, he had gained control of a DOD program that has a direct bearing on the health of service members.

"Snyder saw an immediate opportunity to improve the acquisition processes within our organization," said Cori Hughes, senior communications analyst at the Resources IT Program Office in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, where Snyder works.

"He took the lead and communicated a number of strategic goals to increase process standardization and accountability," Hughes said.

Snyder also created a forum for handling communication issues. "We always have issues with communications between managers," Snyder said. But after the forum was created, the number of communication problems dwindled. More than 90 percent were resolved in a satisfactory manner, Hughes said.

Snyder, who is responsible for designing, developing and deploying Navy health systems, said he approaches IT conservatively.

"As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, we like to stick with what is proven stable and deliver technology as quickly as possible at the lowest cost possible," he said.


Advice from the pros

Name: Michael Snyder.

Title: Program manager of the Resources Information Technology Program Office.

Organization: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

Project: Manage the Business program.

On managing people: "I've always used a management-by-example approach," Snyder said. He likes to create a team environment in which others can take risks without feeling threatened. Project team members "need senior managers to provide top cover so they are able to go out and make decisions and keep projects on track," he said.

On managing processes: "We are CMM Level 2-certified," he said, referring to the Capability Maturity Model for software development, a process standard developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute.

On managing technology: "It's always tempting to go into bleeding-edge technology. Our normal practice is to stick with stable, proven technologies," he said.

Rising Stars

Meet 21 early-career leaders who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock imag (by Benjamin Haas): cyber coded team.

    What keeps govtech leaders up at night?

    A joint survey by Grant Thornton and PSC found that IT stakeholders in government fear their own employees and outdated systems the most when it comes to cybersecurity.

  • SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

    SEC owns up to 2016 breach

    A key database of financial information was breached in 2016, possibly in support of insider trading, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Image from

    DOD looks to get aggressive about cloud adoption

    Defense leaders and Congress are looking to encourage more aggressive cloud policies and prod reluctant agencies to embrace experimentation and risk-taking.

  • Shutterstock / Pictofigo

    The next big thing in IT procurement

    Steve Kelman talks to the agencies that have embraced tech demos in their acquisition efforts -- and urges others in government to give it a try.

  • broken lock

    DHS bans Kaspersky from federal systems

    The Department of Homeland Security banned the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab’s products from federal agencies in a new binding operational directive.

  • man planning layoffs

    USDA looks to cut CIOs as part of reorg

    The Department of Agriculture is looking to cut down on the number of agency CIOs in the name of efficiency and better communication across mission areas.

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