CIO making short drive to dot-com

Harold Gracey, the outgoing chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is trading in a three-hour commute to work for a 30-minute one.

Next week, Gracey, 52, joins FedBid.com as vice president of government affairs. The Germantown, Md.-based company calls itself the first Web-based service that facilitates credit card purchases for open-market business-to-government commerce.

As Gracey drove home Wednesday to Damascus, Md., from his last day on the job in the federal government in Washington, D.C., he laughed at the prospect of having more time with his family and less time driving to work.

In a cell phone interview, Gracey said his biggest accomplishment as the VA's CIO was preventing the Year 2000 bug from infiltrating the department.

"We realized we were all going to sink or swim together. We had 4 [million] to 5 million veterans' checks that had to go out at the beginning of January. We had many people in VA hospital beds. We had to make sure the veterans were safe and secure," Gracey said.

Gracey, who has spent 30 years in the federal government, said in five years he does not expect information technology to look the way it does today.

"Government is always a bit slower to adapt than industry," he said. "But I think technology in the next five years will transform the way people do business with government."

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