CIO leaving space agency

Less than a year into the job, NASA acting chief information officer Paul Strassmann has decided to leave the space agency, sources say.

Strassmann assumed the position in July 2002 after former CIO Lee Holcomb was detailed to the Office of Homeland Security.

Strassmann came to NASA in May as a senior information technology adviser to the agency's administrator, Sean O'Keefe. The two men worked together at the Defense Department and at Syracuse University in New York.

At the Pentagon, Strassmann — who also has served as CIO for General Foods Corp., Kraft Foods Inc. and Xerox Corp. — was adviser to the DOD deputy secretary and, later, director of Defense information.

He is rumored to be going to a defense agency, sources said. There is no official word yet on his departure date or his successor, according to Brian Dunbar, a NASA spokesman.

During his brief tenure as the agency's CIO, Strassmann laid out an ambitious plan to overhaul NASA's computer architecture, creating a single, highly secure system that he said would deliver "substantial savings." A major part of the restructuring includes building two mission control centers — modeled after those that remotely manage the complex machinery of space flights — to run NASA's network.

Several months later, the agency placed a moratorium on IT expenditures that are not considered mission-critical.

Soon thereafter, budget issues took a backseat to dealing with the aftermath of the high-altitude break-up of space shuttle Columbia. NASA continues to investigate the Feb. 1 accident.

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