A few minutes with... Kevin Carroll

Kevin Carroll

Kevin Carroll retired last week as the Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems after eight years at the helm of the service’s top information technology shop. In an interview with Federal Computer Week, Carroll reflected on his time in the Army.

FCW: How has the program office changed during your tenure?

CARROLL: When I first came here, there were 170 employees and about 20 systems. Today, we have 650 employees and more than 120 systems spread across all the combat support areas: logistics, personnel, finance and medical. The other big thing that has changed is when [Operation] Desert Storm began, we had fewer than 10 people in theater. Now we have 605 people, mostly contractors, all supporting our business systems. You can see the change from [those] being back-office kinds of systems to frontline systems.

FCW: What skills do you believe your job requires?

CARROLL: One is an understanding of the government IT acquisition process and how the IT requirements flow down from [the Office of Management and Budget] to the federal agencies, [Defense Department] and then to the Army. Also, you need the personality to build consensus within a large body because the government is a pretty large body.

FCW: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment?

CARROLL: For me personally, it was the people that were here or that I brought into the organization who shared my philosophy of being customer-focused. When I saw and heard from my customers that my people were…doing that, it gave me that proud father kind of feeling.

FCW: What would you do over again if you could?

CARROLL: It’s not so much the things I did, but more the things I didn’t do. For example, I wish I could have spent more time on enterprise integration — on getting more focus between the different programs and working issues between the different functional domains. Also, I wish we had a little better standard business practices than we do [among program managers]. But it’s not a regretful thing. I think the important stuff is done. For me, anyway.

FCW: What lessons have you learned from the war in Iraq?

CARROLL: When the war started, we underestimated the amount of support that would be needed for deployed IT systems. One of our big lessons learned is that we were slow to respond getting support to the [troops] in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second one was that because our commercial products were such a big hit, we had to keep production moving, and we had to have support [in theater] as well.

FCW: What lessons are you personally taking away from the job?

CARROLL:It’s too early to say. I’m going to miss things, like being able to help direct and lead people doing great things for a good cause. I know I’ll never have that as I go out to industry. I might be able to help, but I won’t be leading it.

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