Ortego to start consulting firm

John Ortego, the out-going director of the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center in New Orleans, will be leaving the federal government Jan. 31 and starting his own consulting firm.

Ortego, who is well-known in the information technology community, already has lined up a roster of top-notch firms on his client list, including Computer Sciences Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., BEA Systems, a leading application infrastructure software company and a major telecommunications firm.

In addition, Ortego said he will be affiliated with the Livingston Group LLC, a government relations and lobbying firm headed by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.). Ortego said he'd share office space with the Livingston Group in both Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, where he will continue to live.

Ortego said his new firm — Ortego and Associates — would advise clients on how to position themselves strategically for e-government and cross-government initiatives.

"There is a lot of money going to be spent on IT," Ortego said, adding that agencies are expecting to see at least a 5 percent increase in the fiscal 2004 budget request.

Although Congress has clipped the wings of the e-government fund by cutting $40 million out of the administration's $45 million request for fiscal 2003, Ortego said that "it is not going to take the legs" off the initiative. Agencies, he said, would find other money to continue moving toward a paperless government.

Ortego said he is leaving government with "mixed emotions." He said he doesn't think he will ever be involved again in running such a major enterprise as the National Finance Center, which manages the pay and personnel system for 500,000 federal workers.

Nevertheless, he said he "will not miss the frustrations of dealing with a complex bureaucracy."

Ortego has resigned his position as president of the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils, but he expects to become part of the Industry Advisory Council, the private-sector part of the association.

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