Rising Star: Matt Grote: He can't help but lead

Matt Grote
Government Accountability Office

When Matt Grote joined Young Government Leaders three years ago, he wasn’t looking for more work. He just wanted to meet other young feds who were interested in building social bonds. But Grote, an information technology analyst at the Government Accountability Office, couldn’t help himself. Once he got involved, he started seeing ways to improve the YGL’s use of technology.

Now, three years later, one of the group’s founders credits Grote with revitalizing its use of technology, which has led to the development of an IT strategic plan on which future YGL officers can build. Grote’s enthusiasm is part of what has made him so effective, said Steve Ressler, co-founder of YGL and an IT auditor at the Homeland Security Department.

“He’s one of those guys who stepped up to the plate when other people weren’t,” Ressler said. For example, after Ressler ended his tenure as the organization’s primary communications coordinator, a couple of other volunteers tried to tackle the position but faltered. Grote was the one who finally took the reins.

YGL “provided me a creative outlet that I couldn’t necessarily get at work,” Grote said. “There was a whole plethora of responsibilities that needed taking on.”

Ressler and Megan Quinn — both 2006 Rising Star award winners — co-founded YGL in 2003. The organization evolved from an informal happy-hour group into a more formal and structured networking organization by 2005. Its original technology was a Yahoo group and associated e-mail list for distributing information about planned events.

Grote began using other tools to improve and expand the group’s communications capabilities. “The key thing is, they were all free tools available over the Web,” he said. “We had to go from that simple Yahoo era to Google, which allowed us to e-mail a lot more members more easily. “

A friend developed a Web site for the group, which was eventually superseded by other professionally designed sites. An Alexandria, Va., company named Mind and Media recently donated services to create the group’s current site.

Grote said the idea to create an IT strategic plan arose from the group’s desire to change leaders every year or two while ensuring continuity from one officeholder to another. But Grote’s experiences at GAO also played into it.

“At GAO, we pounded into agencies’ heads [the message] ‘document, document, document,’ ” he said. “If it’s not on paper, it doesn’t mean much. This is a way for me to pass on these ideas to the next generation.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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