Private group would advise IT managers

The Industry Advisory Council (IAC) has begun an initiative to bring together former federal information resource management officials and federal information technology executives from the private sector to create a pool of experts who will be available to offer advice to federal agencies on issues such as selecting a chief information officer or making management decisions for IT programs.

IAC chairman Ken Johnson president and chief executive officer of Cordant Inc. said his organization remains in the preliminary stages of assembling the group which has been named the Information Technology Service Corps. He said he hopes to have the group completed by the time the IAC holds its annual Executive Leadership Conference in October.

"I don't know if we will be done by then in all honesty " Johnson said. "But we will certainly have built up a lot of momentum by that time."

He said IAC members were in the process of appointing a task force leader who will be responsible for developing the corps' charter criteria for individuals who serve on the corps and guidelines on what types of issues the corps will tackle on behalf of agencies. Johnson added that the IAC is considering how to avoid potential conflicts of interest that may result from a private-sector official offering advice to the government.

"We're on safe ground but we have to make sure we don't do something wrong in our zeal to do something right " Johnson said. "The notion now is that we will create a fairly sizable pool [of corps members] so that conflicts of interest would not be a delimiter."

Johnson said the program was kicked off when Mike Nicholson a computer scientist at the Patent and Trademark Office pitched the idea to IAC member Renny DiPentima president of SRA Federal Systems.

Nicholson said he envisions the corps as a group of experienced professionals who offer free advice to federal agencies on IT issues for periods of less than two days. He compared its mission to that of the Information Technology Resources Board (ITRB) a group of federal IT experts who offer advice on how to successfully develop and buy IT systems but the corps would have no government employees as members.

"The idea is we want to provide high-impact very knowledgeable expertise on management and IT to agencies that can benefit from it " he said. "Agencies will be made aware of who the members are and they can request individuals from that set of experts to advise them for a short period of time."

A draft circular advertising the concept of the corps said members could be available to help agencies hire qualified CIOs or advise deputy and assistant secretaries of cabinet agencies on program management issues that may be unfamiliar to them. The circular also said members could augment the ITRB if it needs specific types of management or technical expertise.

Nicholson and Johnson said the initiative has the explicit support of officials at the Office of Management and Budget who had been pushing for such an initiative.

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