DOJ's Boster to retire in February

Mark Boster, who for the past five years has guided the Justice Department's $1.1 billion information resources program, said last week that he will leave the agency in early February and look for a new job in the private sector.

News of the pending departure of Boster, the deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management, comes after weeks of speculation that he would step down, or was being forced, from the post.

Boster said he will consider employment in the private sector upon his departure, but he also said he likely will take a couple of months off before embarking on a new career. "I'm looking for another challenge. I'm looking to do something a little different," although it would definitely be in the information technology arena, he said.

For weeks some DOJ observers have speculated that Boster would depart DOJ, with some of those observers saying complications in a key IT program, the Justice Consolidated Office Network, may have helped fuel the departure.

But one DOJ source confirmed that Boster's exit is a retirement, not a resignation.

DOJ awarded the JCON contract, worth an estimated $500 million, to GTE Government Systems Corp. in March 1996, with the goal of putting common hardware and software as well as network connectivity on desks across several DOJ agencies.

But in August 1997, after technical difficulties, Boster and his staff crafted a new set of requirements, and the department signed blanket purchase agreements with Wang Global and Digital Equipment Corp. to begin building what is called JCON II.

Some observers also have speculated that Boster's departure may have been hastened by officials at DOJ bureaus who want to develop their own secure information systems and networks rather than log on to the DOJ-wide networks that Boster has been crafting. "Every department has one or two big gorillas [bureaus] you have to fight," one DOJ observer said.

Leaving for Something New

Boster refuted speculation that he is leaving because of internal DOJ pressure. "I can tell you categorically: I'm leaving because I'm interested in doing something new," he said. "I'm leaving the Department of Justice with nothing but good thoughts."

"I'm sorry to see the guy go," said Stephen Colgate, the assistant attorney general and Boster's boss. "I wish he were going to be here for the next 10 years."

"I think [Boster's departure] will be a loss. Mark speaks his mind and is right a lot more than he's wrong," said Bob Woods, the president of McLean, Va.-based Federal Sources Inc.

Boster said no decision had been made on who will replace him, but one DOJ observer speculated that Mary Ellen Condon, Boster's director for information management and security staff, would act in the stead of Boster after he leaves.

Colgate said he will announce early next year who will assume Boster's duties.

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