DOT's George Molaski begins a third and final endeavor?public service

For George Molaski, the Transportation Department's first chief information officer, a job with the government seemed like the logical next step for someone who already had experienced life as a student and a businessman.

"I always liked the comment...'Spend one-third of your life educating yourself, one-third of your life earning money and one-third of your life in public service,' " Molaski said. "I believe everybody should get involved in public service to contribute in whatever manner they see fit."

From early on, Molaski had an interest in computers and education. He received a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Dayton and then briefly went to work for NCR Corp. rewriting Fortran compilers. He later received a master's degree in business administration from his alma mater and returned to work for NCR, this time in the organizational development area.

The Army sent him to Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day in 1970, and among his tasks was to rewrite the service's haircut regulations at a time when the battle between "long hairs" and "short hairs" was heating up. Molaski jokingly calls that work his "real claim to fame."

Most recently, Molaski was president of Writers Club, which has an Internet site that posts and sells books written by independent authors. Customers can order a book from the World Wide Web site (writersclub.com) and have it printed on demand.

Molaski also was executive vice president of Advanced Paradigms Inc. and president of the former research outfit IDC Government. He still volunteers as chairman of the Falls Church, Va. Economic Development Authority.

"I was always looking at technology as a tool to make business better, [to provide] a competitive advantage and to make our jobs easier," Molaski said. "For me, it's never been technology for technology's sake. But I do love my toys." A high-definition TV and another PalmPilot are on his personal wish list, he said.

Molaski believes his background has provided the right mix of skills to be successful. "I have a very broad base of technical skills and understanding of IT," he said. "I've seen it in a variety of industries, including transportation and government. The other side is business orientation. I've been fortunate enough to be in executive positions in some very good business organizations."

Part of his job as CIO will be to ensure that DOT makes wise technology investments. Molaski said DOT will create an IT investment board, like those in other federal agencies, that will oversee the budget process and have a final say on how money should be spent.

He also plans to migrate the department to using single e-mail package and eventually a common suite of office applications to improve communication. The CIO's office already is evaluating Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange and Office 2000 packages for potential departmentwide rollout.

Not surprisingly, Molaski plans to use the Internet to disseminate more transportation-related information and beef up the department's intranet to give the public and DOT's employees easy access to information and provide a feedback loop.

He is considering creating a "transportation portal" for this purpose. "Much of DOT is in the first generation of using the Internet right now," he said. "It's not as user-friendly as it could be. We want to change that."

Like other CIOs in government, Molaski said he faces work force and training challenges, especially with the private sector promising young workers high salaries and good benefits.

But perhaps his biggest challenge is funding the activities he wants to pursue. He was hired as CIO just three months ago and therefore had little input into the fiscal 2001 budget.

"A lot of initiatives I want to do will have to be off-budget or will have to wait [until 2001]," he said. "That was the biggest shock."

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