Customs IT chief to retire

S.W. "Woody" Hall, assistant commissioner of the Office of Information and Technology for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), will retire in November, and Charles Armstrong, who runs the Customs modernization program, will become the acting assistant commissioner.

Hall, who has been in government for more than 30 years, was chief information officer at the U.S. Customs Service before it became part of the Homeland Security Department last year. He previously worked for the Energy Department, where he was CIO from 1994 to 1998.

He was not immediately available for comment about his future plans, but government sources speculated that he may take a job in the private sector.

"With Hall at the helm, U.S. Customs Office of Information and Technology has become a recognized government leader in providing information technology services and has been recognized for best practices in the fields of investment management, Enterprise Architecture and information systems security," CBP commissioner Robert Bonner said in a statement.

Hall was instrumental in launching the Customs Modernization Program — including the Automated Commercial Environment project, a database that will link every U.S. port of entry and replace a paper-based system. The new system has become increasingly important as U.S. officials develop a new system for inspecting millions of cargo containers entering the United States each year.

Charles Armstrong, who has been in charge of running the modernization program, will replace Hall as acting CIO.

Reached in San Diego, where he has been seeing how the U.S. Border Patrol uses technology, Armstrong said Hall has provided an outstanding level of leadership to make BCP one of the best agencies in government.

"When Woody arrived, we were a very good organization that wasn't well organized and did not have good processes in place," Armstrong said. "We had good people and a strong will to get the job done, but not the leadership. Woody provided the leadership to make CBP the best in its class in government."

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