Officials mull future of Trail Boss

Government contracting officials are considering ways to use the now-discontinued

Trail Boss contracting training program to provide management and security

training for next-generation agency IT staff.

At the annual "Roundup" of Trail Boss graduates in Williamsburg, Va.,

this week, Trail Boss Interagency Committee chairman Larry Simon said the

Trail Boss program was "on a course to perish" unless steps were taken to

preserve the network of 900 Trail Boss graduates still active in government.

"Trail Boss features the best IT-management minds and network in the

federal government," Simon said. "Future IT leaders need the Trail Boss

community to succeed."

Simon wants to use Trail Bosses in ways that could help the federal

government train and retain IT managers. "The whole idea is how can we use

the network to help keep IT professionals in government," said Simon, a

program manager with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trail Boss was launched in the early 1990s to train agency contracting

officers to administer cumbersome indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity

contracts then being used to feed the government's appetite for desktop

computers. When the big contracts faded away after procurement reform, Trail

Boss lost much of its drive.

Last year the program was discontinued. "Trail Boss did not keep up

with the times," said one agency IT manager here this week. In its place,

the General Services Administration launched STAR, a broader educational

program designed to give senior agency managers a grounding in project and

program management skills in technology, business and finance.

Now some officials believe remnants of the Trail Boss program should

be preserved to support junior- and mid-level managers who might not be

covered by STAR.

Among the ideas floated this week:

* Expand the Trail Boss network of graduates to include alumni who have

moved to the private sector.

* Create a Trail Boss workgroup to promote Internet security awareness

and training.

* Use the network to create a project management initiative for junior

IT professionals.

* Create a formal mentoring program for the next generation of IT leaders.

* Set up a series of meetings so Trail Boss and STAR program graduates

can convene and share ideas.

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