Letter to the editor

This is in response to an FCW.com poll question March 25 to March 29 that asked: How do you feel about a proposal that would allow federal information technology managers to swap jobs with their private-sector counterparts for up to two years?

I believe that the management swap program is a non-issue. It will have an initial surge of interest and activity to be followed by entropy.

There are good managers and bad managers in both private and public sectors. Will companies and agencies be willing to give up the time and experience of their critical managers, or will it be those who are (at least somewhat) expendable?

A six-month to two-year period is a relatively small time frame for a manager to influence the culture of a relatively large organization. The learning curve needed to understand an organizational culture and to make meaningful changes exceeds the window of time allotted. At best, personnel involved in the swaps will gain new perspectives in culture and business operations, not in technology.

I would suggest that FCW could provide a service by interviewing those private-sector managers who have had the public-sector experience. One candidate would be Paul Strassmann, who was the Defense Department chief information officer during the first Bush administration. It would be interesting to get his perspective on a private-sector manager's time spent in the public sector.

Edward Troup Agriculture Department

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