Fed IT pick has deep resume
- By Diane Frank
- Jun 18, 2001
The Bush administration's decision to select Unisys Corp. executive Mark Forman as the point man on federal information technology and e-government efforts is drawing praise from government and industry officials alike.
The Office of Management and Budget announced June 14 that Forman will become associate director for IT and e-government at OMB and will assume his new job June 25. Forman is vice president of e-business for the public sector and federal systems at Unisys and a former staff member for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where he specialized in IT issues.
OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. created the new position to oversee agencies' efforts to use technology to improve performance. "The technical skills and thorough knowledge of government Mark has gained through his private- and public-sector experiences make him the ideal person for this new position," Daniels said in a statement.
Forman will lead the administration's development of internal IT policy, direct the CIO Council and preside over the $100 million e-government fund for inter.agency initiatives that President Bush created in his fiscal 2002 budget request.
"We have someone with an e-government background who understands the costs, the resources, the effort what it takes to get there," said Mayi Canales, who is co-chairwoman of the council's E-Government Committee.
Although Forman has been at Unisys only eight months, he quickly earned a reputation as an active executive, said Gwynne Harrington, a company spokeswoman. "Mark's a hands-on vice president. He's not a figurehead type of person," she said, adding that such an approach should serve him well in working with federal agencies.
Forman's duties and oversight role will go well beyond OMB to the agency level, said Christopher Ullman, associate director for communications at OMB. But he will not serve as the federal chief information officer.
Forman will report to the deputy director for management, a position the administration has yet to fill. That person will hold the federal CIO title, and although he or she will be responsible for many policy issues other than IT — including procurement, financial management and regulatory affairs — Forman "will be the chief IT person for OMB," Ullman said.
The Senate has confirmed Angela Styles as administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and is expected to confirm John Graham as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs — two other key posts under the deputy director for management. Forman will work closely with the IT branch at OIRA, Ullman said.
OMB Deputy Director Sean O'Keefe told Federal Computer Week last month that, given the lengthy confirmation process, there might not be a deputy director for management until the beginning of next year.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, has repeatedly expressed interest in governmentwide IT management. He introduced a bill last year to create a Cabinet-level CIO and has said he will reintroduce it this year.
Davis will continue his efforts "not as a counter to what the administration is doing, but to further the debate," said David Marin, Davis' legislative director.
Forman worked on legislation for seven years with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, including the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996. He has spent the last four years in industry, first leading e-government sales at IBM Global Services Inc. and then at Unisys.
His experience with federal IT issues from both the public- and private-sector angles makes Forman uniquely qualified, said Alan Balutis, executive director of the Federation of Government Infor.mation Processing Councils, who has worked with Forman on both fronts.
"I've always found him to be one of the better minds and thoughtful professionals in this area," Balutis said.