OSD leaders Valletta, Rand jump on buyout bandwagon

Even as the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) faces a major reorganization, Anthony M. Valletta and at least five other senior members of the Defense Department's command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) staff plan to leave the Pentagon after applying for early buyouts last month.

Valletta, the acting assistant secretary of Defense (ASD)/C3I, confirmed that the secretary of Defense approved his request for retirement Monday night. He also confirmed that other senior staff members were leaving as well, although he would not specify who or how many.

Cynthia Rand, the principal director for information management at the Office of the ASD/C3I; Samuel Worthington, the director of information technology at OASD/C3I; and Daniel Grulke, the director for plans and integration at OASD/C3I, also confirmed they had applied for buyouts.

Others reported to be applying for buyouts include James E. Soos, the deputy ASD/C3I; and Dennis M. Nagy, the director of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) integration support activity. These officials could not be reached for comment.

According to DOD sources, a large number of people in the undersecretary of Defense acquisition and technology office also have applied for buyouts.

Under the present buyout program, DOD has offered early-retirement incentives to the staff in OSD, Washington Headquarters Services, Defense Support Activities and some related organizations. The program is open to Senior Executive Service employees, SES equivalents and to personnel in GS-3 through GS-15 positions. The offer is open through March 20.

The departures of the C3I officials come at a time when DOD is reviewing the structure of OSD in anticipation of a major downsizing and reorganization. The Defense Reform Initiative, issued by secretary of Defense William Cohen last November, recommended streamlining DOD, including the reallocation of C3I functions to other offices. A DOD panel is reviewing the recommendations and is expected to issue its report later this month.

However, several departing C3I staff members said their decisions to leave were unrelated to the anticipated upheaval at OSD.Valletta, who has been the acting ASD/C3I since the retirement of Emmett Paige Jr. last year, is retiring after 28 years of public service. "It's time for new people to come in," Valletta said. "I want to promote the young."

Valletta said he has seen too many people stay past the point at which they are really effective, and he does not want that to happen to him. "I'm extremely happy," he said. "I just want to get out and start a second career while I still can."

Before his present position, Valletta served as deputy ASD for C3I acquisition and headed up the C3I Systems Acquisition Committee. "I can still help the Department of Defense, but now from the industry side," he said. Valletta said he has no immediate plans, but he is interested in staying within the IT industry. His last day is March 28. He said the secretary of Defense is still working with the White House to pick a successor.

Rand also said her departure was unrelated to the changes at OSD. The buyout offer "was an opportunity I could not pass up," said Rand, who also said she had no immediate plans but would look for a leadership position in the technology arena.

Rand joined OASD/C3I in 1994 after serving as director of information resources management for the Transportation Department.Cynthia Kendall, the former deputy ASD for information management, said the loss of senior leadership would be difficult for the department to absorb. "That is a tremendous amount of talent and historical knowledge going at once," said Kendall, who is now a vice president for information management at Science Applications International Corp.

However, "you must remember they've all got staff" members, who have developed knowledge and expertise, she said. "What [the buyout] does is give them a chance to move up."

Worthington, whose last day is Feb. 28, agreed, saying that he and other directors have made it a point to develop the capabilities and experience of their staff.

"All of the people are well-trained in everything they are doing," said Worthington, who has worked primarily on Year 2000-related issues. Their primary challenge will be to develop a new synergism, he said.

One OSD source, who requested anonymity, said this most recent personnel drain would deprive the department of valuable institutional knowledge and experience, particularly after having Paige and a number of other high-level officials depart during the past year.

Although the source said he did not think the departures were related to organizational changes, he also noted that the most important personnel in an organization tend to draw a lot of criticism for reforms they may push, which eventually may drive them away."If you look at these people [who are leaving], they were all 'change agents' in their time," the source said. "I have found that organizations are very good at murdering their change agents."

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